Danielle Saint-Lôt is Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Haiti for Women’s Empowerment and a longtime member of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. In 1998 she co-founded Femmes en DĢ©mocratie, the Haiti Chapter of Vital Voices, and in 2004 she was recognized with a Vital Voices Global Leadership Award. Ambassador Saint-Lôt served as the first female Minister of Commerce and Industry and has held several other key positions in Haiti’s government including Minister of Tourism. In 2012 Ambassador Saint-Lôt participated in the inaugural Global Ambassadors Program mentoring initiative in Haiti and was paired with Justine Metz, former Bank of America chief marketing officer, Global Wealth and Investment Management Marketing and Sales Support. We recently had a chance to catch up with Danielle on the one-year anniversary of the Danielle Saint-Lôt Haiti Women’s Foundation.
You are currently serving as Ambassador at Large for Haiti – what are your priorities?
I am currently Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Haiti for women’s empowerment. One of my priorities is to raise awareness about gender equality and women issues in Haiti at the international level. My second priority is to advocate for Haiti with international partners so that they fulfill their existing commitments on women’s empowerment and human rights, and to engage in new commitments that will close the gender equality gap. I also lobby foreign governments and legislative branches as well as multilateral and international cooperation agencies to increase resources to improve gender equality in Haiti and commit to acting in line with the Beijing Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
What inspired the launch of the Danielle Saint-LĢ«t Haiti Women’s Foundation? What are its primary activities?
I was proud to celebrate my foundation’s first anniversary during Women’s History Month recently. The Danielle Saint-Lôt Haiti Women’s Foundation meets one of the four key priority areas of the National Women’s Platform launched at the first Global Ambassadors Program in Haiti in 2012: Increasing economic opportunities for women through its signature program the “Haiti Women’s Business Academy.” The Academy is a one-year “ĢŹ la carte” program to train and prepare annual cohorts of 12-15 growth oriented female entrepreneurs for the global marketplace. The focus is on capacity building and optimizing the supply and value chains. The Academy’s members access innovative strategies and 21st century solutions to enhance distribution and production capability, gain access to capital markets and networks, and begin to export.
You were paired with Justine Metz during the inaugural Global Ambassadors Program in Haiti in 2012 – what did you work on together and what was the lasting impact?
I still call Justine ‘Mentor J.’ What started in 2012 as a productive mentorship relationship has evolved in a strong and enduring friendship and mutual engagement to team up for women’s empowerment worldwide. Justine has moved to Denver. Influenced by the Global Ambassadors Program, she has launched a women’s network at her company. She has been the first donor investing in my 501(c)(3) foundation and has helped fundraise through her personal network. We are exploring opportunities to have the foundation, with the support of philanthropic funders, hold a “Matchmaking and Investment Marketplace” in Denver, in 2017, to provide Haitian female entrepreneurs seeking capital a deal room to pitch their business high growth projects to investors – both angels and venture capitalists.
Danielle Saint-LĢ«t in 2012 addressing the National Women’s Platform for Haiti working group and Global Ambassadors Program participants
What changes did you see in President Martelly’s cabinet after GAP and beyond, and did the National Women’s Platform for Haiti have an influence?
Less than a month after the National Women’s Platform endorsement by President Martelly, 48 percent women were appointed to the Government’s cabinet, including a female Minister of Economy and Finance. Platform’s objectives, four key priority areas and concrete lines of action have been integrated to the National Gender Equality Policy and its six-year Action Plan adopted by the Haiti Government on March 2015.
What are your fellow Global Ambassadors Program alumnae doing these days?
Mimose Felix was appointed Minister for Rural Affairs – a key position as women are the pillars of Haiti rural economy and social life; Rachel Coupaud is now first female Haitian Ambassador to Taiwan; and Annaise Fertil Jean and Marie Gisehlaine Mompremier both ran for Senate in the 2015 legislative elections.
A new Parliament has been inaugurated in January 2016 without a single woman. The absence of women in Parliament despite of a constitutional 30 percent quota for female participation in public offices, including elected posts is a threat to the fragile democratic process in Haiti. I hope Annaise, Giselhaine and other qualified female candidates will run again and win next Senate partial elections at the end of 2016.
Learn more about women’s economic opportunity in Haiti: Watch a United Nations event, the Catherine Flon Symposium – Cultivating Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Women Economic Empowerment, organized by the Danielle Saint-Lôt Haiti Women’s Foundation and the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP).