Haitian women have been protesting gender-based violence, intimate partner violence and rape. Irvika says, “we deserve to be here”, and we agree. For Haitian feminists, the fight is for a better quality of life and equal representation. Representation is important and, though the Haitian constitution makes provisions for its prioritisation, the enforcement does not match up with the 30% statutory requirement.
Irvika focuses on financial liberation as a tool for the emancipation of women to give them the liberty and choice to leave abusive situations. Financial independence is empowering and, it gives women the ability to exert autonomy over their lives.
In a meeting, she was asked to serve tea because she happens to be a woman and her refusal to do so was seen as being “difficult”. Irvika attributes this sort of behaviour from men to their upbringing. During their entire lives, men see only women doing the housework, they grow to see all things centred on domesticity as a woman’s job.
“If you raise men to think they are entitled, later on, they think they are entitled from everyone”. Men grow up and expect even women with whom they have no relationship to be at their service simply because they are men.
Irvika recalls an experience where a male teacher tried to leverage his position of authority to force her into a relationship with him and failed her when she refused. Like most other women in similar positions, she experienced victim blaming even from those charged with the responsibility of dealing with sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is also prevalent in work settings and the dependence on the money and stability that a job provides denies women the ability to walk away from these situations hassle-free. Financial independence is an important step towards liberation for women.
Listen to Irvika Fraçois discuss feminism, politics and gender roles on this week’s episode of We’re Not Crazy You Are.