When Bank of America marketing executive Justine Metz was asked by one of the 100 Haitian leaders who attended the Haitian National Women’s Platform conference “What does a company look for when investing in a country?” the immediate response from Justin was: stability.
Stability is exactly what Haitian women leaders, activists, artists, jurists, entrepreneurs, politicians have been working on by grafting together the Haitian Women’s National Platform that was presented to President Michel Martelly at the last day of the three-day conference. The platform is a product of over 300 rounds of consultations with women throughout Haiti by Femmes en Democracy. It identifies four critical priority areas – economic and education opportunity, infrastructure and environment for development, healthcare and gender-based violence, and political and civic participation – calling for stronger inclusion of women in long term reconstruction efforts.
Haiti is far from showing signs of stability but Bank of America’s commitment to putting women as the future driving force for the economy and social fabrics of Haiti is a remarkable strategic investment that merits recognition.
Like in most countries around the world, women in Haiti represent more than half of the population. Investing in women is a long-term commitment and a smart investment. A comprehensive program of mentorship and skills training with strong support from the private sector stands a good chance of developing a critical pool of human resources from grassroots to middle and national levels. This critical mass is the engine that is needed to push for full recovery of a devastated nation such as Haiti.
Opportunities provided for women set a strong social, economic and political foundation for sustainable and equitable development.
Showing corporate social responsibility is not just correct but it is essential for spurring economic growth and spreading opportunities for members of communities and populations in a country that would otherwise be missing the chance. It is through these special programs of mentorship and leadership development to key women that the needs of an entire nation can be addressed.
Bank of America made the right choice by partnering with Vital Voices in this endeavor as Vital Voices has demonstrated its success in the training in training and mentoring a global network of 10,000 women leaders in 144 countries in the past 15 years. As one of the five Global Ambassadors of the Global Leadership Program of Vital Voices, I had the great honor and privilege to lend my experience and personal views of national reconciliation, reconstruction and construction. Similar to Haiti, Cambodia lost its infrastructure, its human resources and almost its entire social fabrics. Among the thoughts shared with women of Haiti is: craft a message that gives men and the society to want to move forward with you.
President Michel Martelly and the First Lady heard the message as they met with the core group of Femmes en Democracy the following day to work out the key issues in the platform and pledged their commitment for Health Centers/Hospital and Agriculture/food security taking as Liberia as its model Stop hunger.
“Si tu crois, tu peux”