Dozens of girls and boys paraded in the very creative national carnival of Jacmel this year with Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl campaign (BIAAG), in the south-east of Haiti, to promote equality for girls and their rights to learn, lead, decide and thrive. They made their voices heard by tens of thousands of festival-goers thanks to a good collaboration between Plan International, the Haitian Institute of Social Welfare, the national for children protection, the Health Department and the Directorate of Civil Protection.
Their participation at this famous and colorful event has indeed held around the theme "Jakmèl ann ale pou dwa tifi respekte" (For the respect of girls’ rights, let’s go Jacmel!). This theme is itself derived from that of the carnival which was "Jakmèl Ann Ale" (Let's go Jacmel!).
A unique opportunity to raise awareness among dozens of thousands
As every year, the carnival of Jacmel brought together dozens of thousands of Haitians and foreigners. In order to rally the festival-goers to the girls' cause, banners containing messages have been installed on the official carnival route as well as in other streets in the city.
"Let's act together to promote equality for girls," says one of these banners. "Early pregnancy interferes with the future of our girls," or "we must act against violence against girls and women" alert other ones, signed by Plan International, the Health Direction of Southeast and other partners.
"This is a unique opportunity to reach dozens of thousands of festival-goers from Jacmel and elsewhere with specific messages," says Natacha Dominique, Protection and Youth and Children Participation program manager for Plan International in the Southeast of Haiti. She rightly reminds that these moments of rejoicing are often the occasion of non-respect for girls (women) and their rights.
The campaign reached even more people in Haiti as Medias such as Tele Caraibes and Tele Ginen, with national coverage, were broadcasting live. Many of them have talked to Plan International Staff to know about the campaign. Le Nouvelliste, one of the two newspapers in Haiti, wrote an article about it.
A BIAAG queen to carry the torch of the campaign
Girl may remain in school
To draw even more attention to the messages, Plan International joined the local culture by electing a carnival BIAAG queen. Garenchana Jean Pierre, 16, was elected queen one week before the carnival was held in a contest that brought together several girls from a club network in the Southeast.
"I want to be a source of pride and a model for all the Haitian girls," said Garenchana. She invites all institutions working in the area of girls' rights to advocate more for the respect of these rights and advises families to "make sure that girls go to school and remain there".