The dynamics of gender in Haiti has long since been a contentious issue. Masculinity has been constitutionally and traditionally revered as superior whilst femininity is dehumanized and forced into a permanently obscured positionality plagued by both economic and social burdens. Subsequently, Haitian women absorb the brunt of the political, social, structural, state, and hegemonic violence as well as its accompanying discriminations. The feminist movement in Haiti is an issue of power and agency. Although Haitian women have authority and power within their movement, the political instability that has been characteristic of the nation since its founding has created a space where the movement is nationally marginalized. Economic deterioration further impacts women in rural areas who have minimal access to assistance, assemblage, government synergy, and global partnerships. As such, rural women predominantly participate in the informal sector of the economy as a means of survival, power, and agency.
The pressures and gendered nature of neoliberal globalization is the catalyst that propelled women into the informal economy. Thus, an institutionalized patriarchy hides behind the female role of the Poto Mitan, which serves to further perpetuate gender-normative roles in Haitian society. Women’s migration within Haiti and abroad highlights the gendered consequences of having a weakened economic system due to years of neoliberal policies in Haiti. For women, migration serves as a way of regenerating their agency through the creation of alternative economic opportunities for themselves and their families. The value of this research in Haitian Studies will cultivate dialogue about women’s agency and power in Haiti, shed light on the feminist intersectional and post-colonial analyses surrounding the female condition, decolonize the “exceptionalism” of Haiti, and debunk the myths associated with the structural oppression and repression of women by Haitian hegemony.
Keywords: Decolonization, Neoliberalism, Agency, Power.
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