Myriam Merlet

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Myriam Merlet
Born (1956-10-14)October 14, 1956
Les Cayes, Haiti
Died January 12, 2010(2010-01-12) (aged 53)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Nationality Haitian
Occupation Political activist
Years active 1985-2010

Myriam Merlet (October 14, 1956 – January 12, 2010)[1] was a political activist, scholar and economist who served as Chief of Staff of Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women (Ministère a la Condition Feminine et aux Droits des Femmes (MCFDF)), from 2006 to 2008.[2] One of the particular focuses of her work was on how rape and rape culture is used as a political weapon, and was not considered a criminal offense in Haiti until 2005.[3]

Early life[edit]

Merlet was born in Les Cayes, Haiti.[4] Merlet was the second youngest of six siblings: an older brother and four sisters.[5]

In the 1970s, Merlet left Haiti, growing up in France and Italy.[1][6]

In 1975, Merlet moved to Montreal, Canada, where she lived for eleven years.[1][6]

In 1985, while living abroad, she received her M. Sc. in Economics from University of Quebec at Montreal. While at the University of Quebec, she studied women's issues, political sociology, and feminist theory.[2][7]


In July 1986, six months after the end of the Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship, Merlet returned to Haiti at the age of 29. She wrote a personal essay entitled "The More People Dream" in the collection Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance, where she described her struggles for identity as a Haitian woman living in exile and her desire and decision to be part of the solution, which was part of her motivation to return to Haiti.[6][7]

Merlet worked to raise the profile of women in Haiti and abroad,[2] founding EnfoFanm, an organization that raises awareness about the challenges facing women in Haiti, and campaigning for several Haitian streets to be named after women.[8]

In 2001 Merlet reached out to Eve Ensler in an effort to bring The Vagina Monologues to Haiti.[8] In 2007, Ensler visited Haiti and performances were held in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitian.[9]

Vagina Monologue founder, Eve Ensler, wrote a 2011 spotlight monologue entitled "Myriam" as a tribute and rallying cry to the work that Myriam accomplished in Haiti. The monologue describes how Eve called her friend's cellphone, "believing the ring would find you and wake you, your cell gripped in your buried hand."[10]

Merlet participated in the creation and was a longtime spokeswoman for the Coordination Nationale pour le Plaidoyer des Femmes (CONAP), for which she famously battled against sexism in the publicity industry, especially on billboards.[11]

Merlet also played a key role, with other Haitian feminists and members of the government, in helping change the Haitian legal status of rape.[12] Until a new law was pass in 2005, rape was not considered a crime in Haiti, but a public decency offence.[13]

From 2006 to 2008, Merlet was Chief of Staff of Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women (Ministère a la Condition Feminine et aux Droits des Femmes (MCFDF)), and continued as an advisor until her death in 2010.[2]

In 2010, Merlet participated in V-Day’s 10-year anniversary, V TO THE TENTH, at the Superdome in New Orleans, where she participated in the parade and gave a talk at the Superlove event called "Power to the Women of Haiti" with fellow activists Elvire Eugene and Ann Valérie Timothee Milfort.[14]

Merlet also led a campaign to name streets after famous Haitian women.[4]

Personal life[edit]

In 2010, Merlet died in the Paco neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[15] After the earthquake, it was reported that she was able to respond and ask for help via mobile phone but rescue was unsuccessful. She was later found trapped in the collapse of her home.[16][17]

Works and publications[edit]

Chronological by publication


  • Agir sur la Condition Féminine pour améliorer les situations des femmes (with Danièle Magloire) in Cahiers # 8 Conférence Haïtienne des Religieux-euses: Homme et Femme Dieu les créa, du féminisme au partenariat

Open letters[edit]

  • Forces vives d’Haiti décrétent le Gouvernement Lavalas hors la loi[19]
  • Un Antiféminisme Haïtien ? Ou questionnements sur la volonté d’anéantir une pensée Riche et Porteuse[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Myriam Merlet (1956-2010)". Observatoire sur le développement régional et l'analyse différenciée selon les sexes (ORÉGAND). 21 January 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ravitz, Jessica (25 January 2010). "Women's movement mourns death of 3 Haitian leaders". CNN. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Mar (15 January 2010). "The Mongoose Chronicles". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  4. ^ a b "Canadians in Haiti: Stories of Loss and Remembrance: Myriam Merlet". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Merlet-Joassin, Joelle (4 May 2010). "Remembering Myriam Merlet" (Video). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Durand, Monique (27 December 2008). "Une seconde vie à Haïti: Myriam Merlet a quitté le Québec pour sa mère patrie afin de mettre l'épaule à la roue d'un pays qui peine à trouver son souffle". Le Devoir. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Merlet, Myriam (13 December 2001). "The More People Dream". In Bell, Beverly; Danticat, Edwidge (Forward). Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance. Ithaca, N.Y. ; London: Cornell University Press. pp. 217–220. ISBN 978-0-80-148748-4. OCLC 817769032. 
  8. ^ a b Goodman, Amy; Gonzalez, Juan; Ensler, Eve (19 January 2010). "Haitian Feminist Leader Myriam Merlet (1953-2010)" (Video). Democracy Now!. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "V-Day's History of Work in Haiti". V-Day. 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Ensler, Eve (12 January 2011). "Eve's 2011 Haiti Spotlight Monologue - "Myriam Merlet"". V-Day. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "Haiti : Les féministes persistent à exiger le retrait d'une affiche publicitaire " sexiste "". AlterPresse. 11 January 2005. 
  12. ^ Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals (15 March 2015). "Myriam Merlet: The Lost Hero". Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them. 
  13. ^ Merlet, Myriam; Gregorio, Lawrence (translation) (2010). "Haiti: Women in Conquest of Full and Total Citizenship in an Endless Transition". In Maier, Elizabeth; Lebon, Nathalie. Women's Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean: Engendering Social Justice, Democratizing Citizenship. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. pp. 127–139. ISBN 978-0-81-354728-2. OCLC 646699469. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  14. ^ "Superlove Schedule: Friday, April 11". V-Day. 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  15. ^ Goodman, Amy; Moynihan, Denis (20 January 2010). ""Tè Tremblé—The Haitian Earth Trembled." By Amy Goodman". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  16. ^ Dwa Fanm (17 January 2010). "Merlet, Myriam; Port-au-Prince". CNN iReport. Croix-Deprez, Haiti. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  17. ^ "In Memoriam. Myriam Merlet (1956-2010): Haitian Feminist Leader and V-Day Activists". V-Day. 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  18. ^ Maillé, Chantal (2003). "Expériences: Myriam Merlet. La participation politique des femmes en Haïti. Quelques éléments d'analyse" (PDF). Recherches féministes (in French). 16 (1): 208–212. doi:10.7202/007352ar. ISSN 0838-4479. OCLC 5961936833. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  19. ^ Myriam Merlet (2 February 2004). "Forces vives d'Haiti décrétent le Gouvernement Lavalas hors la loi". ENFOFANM. 
  20. ^ Myriam Merlet (6 May 2005). "Un Antiféminisme Haïtien ? Ou questionnements sur la volonté d'anéantir une pensée Riche et Porteuse". AlterPresse. 

Further reading[edit]