Five Community Leaders Attend Special Training as New Phase of Girls' Empowerment Program Begins
When asked about her work as director of the Girls’ Empowerment and Mentoring Program (GEM), Darline Nicolas is unequivocal about the reasons she founded the program: “Girls are more vulnerable. They are the ones that are being domestic servants, they are the ones with no rights, they are the ones with no power, they do not have autonomy of any kind.”
Darline’s comments reflect dire statistics about girls in Haiti, where one in four girls’ first sexual experience is forced or coerced and Haitian girls between the ages of 15-24 are twice as likely as Haitian boys to contract HIV.
Since the GEM program started in 2016, 100 girls in Petit Trou have participated in weekly girls groups to access support and mentorship, giving them tools and resources to navigate the challenges they face in their rural community. The program just embarked on a significant expansion after being one of eight organizations in Haiti to receive a three-year grant from the Novo Foundation under Beyond Borders’ Power to Girls curriculum.
As one of the first steps in this new and exciting phase, five leaders from Petit Trou de Nippes (Darline Nicolas, Patrick Desir, Rica Joassaint, Soeurette Vertil and Françoise Moise) traveled to Jacmel last week to attend a week-long training on the Power to Girls program, which provides step-by-step community guidelines for organizations and activists.
Combining girl-centered programming with a community-wide change process that highlights the roles of parents, educators, and activists, Power to Girls takes evidence-based approaches to prevent gender-based violence in Haiti. Among its interconnected goals, Power to Girls aims to increase participation in girls’ groups, engage boys and young men in addressing power imbalances between genders, and to offer tools to the community that change norms and practices related to violence against women and girls.
The group of leaders from Petit Trou joined three other organizations from Haiti that will be implementing the same program in their own communities. Patrick Desir, CHP’s operations and communications coordinator, noted that organizations will be in regular contact to support one another as they take the program back to their communities.
Patrick summarized Power to Girls by saying it will be “a great tool that will help us with mentorship, and to bring more community awareness about the vulnerable people in Petit Trou.”
All of us at CHP are thrilled to be following the exciting growth of the GEM program and look forward to sharing the highlights with you in the years to come!