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The first recorded act was in 1792, when Cecile Fatiman, a vodou priestess, helped lead the ceremony in Bois Caïman which launched the war of independence against the French slave owners.Marie Jeanne, Sanite Belair, and Marie Claire Heureuse were noted actors in that war, which won the only successful slave revolution in world history and which established Haiti as the first Black republic.Losing access even to the rights that existed on the books, wealthy women could not enjoy the fruits of their victories.The loss of privilege and safety moved the feminist movement into the national liberation struggle.For example, for indigent and illiterate women - the great majority - the right to hold political office has been meaningless.This changed under the Duvalier dictatorship, when distinctions between women were partially leveled because the regime denied political freedoms to all women, equally.By 1965, the women's movement effectively merged with the anti-dictatorship movement.During the 1970s and 1980s, some women again began organizing around women's rights and other gender-specific issues.
"We are ready to do everything possible to get our rights respected."We remember, we advance," read the marble plaque to the employees of the women's ministry who were killed in the Haiti's January 12 earthquake.Surrounding the plaque on the rubble-filled lot where the ministry stood until two months ago, hundreds of women gathered on International Women's Day, March 8, to commemorate those they lost in the earthquake and to express their determination for a more just future.Far more numerous were those women whose names were never recorded but who took part in the poisoning of slave owners; subterfuge on the plantations; marronage, escape from the plantations to underground camps from where attacks on the plantations were launched; and rebellions. Since that time, women have been present in a broad and active social movement whose priorities have included participatory democracy, human rights, equity in economic policies, guarantee of state services, national literacy programs, employment, and rural development.Records of women marching in the streets date back to 1930, when they demanded an end to the U. Women have been key to campaigns for trade policies which protect labor rights, the environment, and local production, and to campaigns against political and economic strong-arming by the U. Within this broad work for justice and rights for all people, women have been working to change gender relations of power so that they, too, can benefit from social advances.