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Combating the school drop-out of young mothers in Haiti

In Haiti, early pregnancy is a major barrier to girls’ education and empowerment. There is no specific strategy to combat the drop-out of young mothers from school; on the contrary, the practice is that they are excluded from educational institutions when they find themselves in this situation.

After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, several vulnerable groups in the country, including women, children, people living with disabilities and sexual minorities, suffered violations of their basic human rights. With our Advancing Equality through Human Rights Education project, we are using human rights education with partners to build the leadership capacities of women, girls and their allies.  We work on gender equality issues in Haiti using a participatory approach to human rights education, which includes the voices of participants in the learning process.

Last year, in collaboration with coaches trained by Equitas as part of our previous Citizen Engagement program, four community forums were held in the cities of Gressier, Jacmel, La Victoire and Thomassique. These forums addressed various human rights issues such as the participation of women and girls in decision-making spaces, the promotion of the rights of women and girls living with disabilities and the exclusion of girls with early pregnancy from school.

This last issue particularly affected Isemone Louissaint, Director of the National School of Thomassique, who participated in one of the forums.  Having witnessed this problem herself in her school, she understands that if young girls do not have access to education, it directly affects their empowerment and thus their future participation in decision-making spaces. Firmly believing that all girls have the right to education, whether they are mothers or not, she decided to mobilize to promote the return of young mothers to her school.

To achieve this, she began holding awareness-raising meetings with the young mothers concerned, as well as their parents.  The aim of these meetings was  to raise awareness of the right to education, as well as the many benefits that the return of these young mothers to school can bring to girls, their families and society as a whole. She also organized regular discussion sessions with other students and teachers to combat the stigmatization of girls at school.

Out of three of the girls targeted, two agreed to return to school and had very good results this year, what a success!

This is the power and scope of human rights education: Equitas provides tools and knowledge so that community members can then address barriers to equality in their own communities. This is exactly what Isemone has done: taking ownership of the principles of human rights education to uphold the right to education in her community, which has a real impact on the participation of women and girls.


Haitian Creole