People We Love :: Myriam Merlet

In memoriam: a Haitian feminist

“While I was abroad I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman,” wrote author-activist Myriam Merlet in a 2001 essay.

One of the few women ever to lead a Haitian government office, Merlet, 53, died in the January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

Born in Haiti, Merlet in the 1980s began fighting violence against women and in 1994 helped to establish a government agency: the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights.

“There’s enormous violence and oppression but there’s also feisty women activists and leadership,” says Merlet’s close friend, American feminist and playwright Eve Ensler.

In 2001, Merlet partnered with Ensler and V-Day to bring to Haiti Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues. A few years later, the two helped establish a safe house in Port-au-Prince for homeless and abused women. The safe house survived the quake.

  • : After 30 years working for democracy, women’s rights, and economic justice in Haiti, Beverly Bell is documenting the impact of the earthquake on Haiti's grassroots movements.