We cannot talk about empowerment and respect for women’s rights without mentioning the feminist activist, Novia Augustin.
Lawyer, diplomat and jurist by training, Novia Augustin is a young Haitian woman with a rich and inspiring background. A true feminist activist, she pursues with ardor and determination the struggle for emancipation and respect for women’s rights.
Novia Augustin is Vice-President FEDOFED, a Haitian social structure. She is also the founding director of Refuge des Femmes d’Haïti (Ref-Haiti), an organization that works for the rights of the most marginalized women in Haiti, such as prostituted women, HIV-positive, victims of violence, bisexuals, transsexuals, among others.
This worthy daughter of Saint-Marc, a town located about a hundred kilometers from the Haitian capital, is the pride of the land. She began her classical studies in the city where she was born and raised, however, it is in Port-au-Prince that she will continue them, before later acquiring her solid university education.
If some doubted it, from a very young age, Novia has always known her true goal in life, which is none other than the defense of women in need. His childhood, troubled by domestic violence suffered by his mother, has forever marked him and instilled in him the importance of being that someone to rely on and who was sorely missed by his mother.
“ I believe that subconsciously, I always knew that I would be a feminist activist. I remember once when I was 8 years old trying to hit my dad who beat my mom. Just thinking about it today, I’m still angry… ”
Always ready to help, she has always taken a stand against acts of violence, more particularly, against those perpetrated against women. She has also built her career on this cause, making sure to have all the possible notions to better embrace this priesthood.
With Ref-Haït, her organization, Novia Augustin reaches several hundred women through different training courses. In partnership with its main partners and donors such as UNICEF, Fosref, PNUD, ONUFEMMES, FAES, Food for the Poor, Initiative spotlight, du CCM-Haïti to name but a few, it offers vulnerable women the opportunity to rise up and gain autonomy and respect. These trainings on sewing, the preparation of cleaning and maintenance products and on entrepreneurship and marketing allow women to rebuild themselves and leave prostitution, to get rid of their violent partners, to protect themselves against domestic violence and finding financial help.
Between 2020 and 2021, the organization carried out around sixty training sessions and distributed energy kits and materials to enable women to start start-ups. At the same time, the organization has continued to maintain massive awareness of the Coronavirus, HIV and violence against women.
Novia Augustin masterfully leads this organization which is close to her heart. Her credo: “I have no right to make mistakes ”, hence her determination to always succeed in whatever she sets out to do.
In January 2021, the young woman received a Dofen Award plaque of honor for her activism and advocacy for women’s rights. She also received another MCFDF award that same year. A great honor and a great motivation for this young woman who continues to multiply actions for the good of the cause. According to her, this fight is still long before achieving respect for women and their security; so that, finally, they are appreciated and accepted at their true value, without their gender intervening.
Novia Augustin is the mother of a little girl and dreams of a fairer, more equitable world. She wants Haitian justice to rule and strengthen the already existing laws against violence against women because they have the right to live free. For those who want to take the same path as her, Novia encourages them to remain strong and to let themselves be guided by their heart, this, regardless of judgments and criticisms, so they can join the good cause.
Eleine E. Jean Pierre
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