It is with tremendous sadness that UNIFEM learned about the deaths of several women leaders from governmental and civil society organizations in Haiti. Among these were Myriam Merlet, Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Women's Condition and Rights and founder of the umbrella women's organization National Coordination for Advocacy on Women's Rights (CONAP); Myrna Narcisse, Director General of the Ministry of Women's Condition; Magalie Marcelin, founder of KayFamn, which operates the only shelter for victims of gender-based violence; and Anne-Marie Coriolon, founding member of one of Haiti's largest women's groups, Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA).
These women had a long history of service and commitment to human rights, gender equality and social justice. Their lives exemplified the character traits of courage, fortitude and optimism. None of them was faint of heart nor easily discouraged by the magnitude of the socio-economic challenges that Haiti confronts.
UNIFEM honours all those women, men and children who lost their lives in the earthquake and pledges its long-term commitment to the task of rebuilding, to supporting in very practical ways the struggles of the Haitian peoples in this very difficult time.
We join Haitians in the knowledge that sustained work undertaken with optimism and good faith is the pathway to the realization of the vision of Haiti characterized by development, equity and peace for all.