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Woman’s World

The incomparable Cher in a promo for her new single, "Woman's World."

The incomparable Cher in a promo for her new single, “Woman’s World.”

A few nights ago, I watched the Macy’s “Fourth of July Spectacular – Live from NYC” with friends in the air-conditioned comfort of their Tucson living room.  Cher was one of the guest performers, strutting her stuff and belting out, “Woman’s World” with power and style that hasn’t wavered one inch off the mark since she first performed, “I Got You Babe” as a 19-year old with Sonny Bono back in 1965. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLpO7g5cZrE

“What a gal,” we all marveled, “She’s got some kind of something that gives her this staying power.” The tweens and their moms and grandmas all clenched their fists above their heads in a show of female solidarity as they sang the lyrics along with the superstar, “And I am stronger, strong enough to rise above.  This is a woman’s world.  This is a woman’s world.”

Would that it were so. Not so much in places like Haiti, where the challenges of being female are eye-popping, to say the least.  According to a report from the Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti, women have a literacy rate which hovers just over fifty percent.  Forty percent of all Haitian households have a female at the head, and sixty percent of those live in extreme poverty.  Topping it off, eighty-three

REC430 "Sunflower Season" by Rosetania Brutus

REC430 “Sunflower Season” by Rosetania Brutus

percent of all economically active women in Haiti work within the informal sector, with “informal sector” having the connotation of being, “under the table,” or “off the books.” Strictly interpreted, this condition may manifest as unreported employment, hidden from the state for tax, social security or labor law purposes, but legal in all other aspects. In other words, 83% of all working women in Haiti have little to no economic security.

The incomparable Rosetania Brutus, breaking into what has tradtionally been a man's world of metal art.

The incomparable Rosetania Brutus, breaking into what has tradtionally been a man’s world of metal art.

In Croix-des-Bouquets, where the local trade is centered around metal sculpture, women are definitely on the periphery, but there are a few who are not content to stay there.  They are challenging the notion that it is “men’s work” and going into business, either for themselves, or in partnership with male relatives.  Rosetania Brutus is one such pioneer.  Having learned from her father, she moved into her cousin’s workshop and began creating her own designs. Now, a few years later she is proud to declare that, “They work for me!”  Her delicate features do not hide the taut musculature of her arms.  Indeed, it is hard, physically demanding work, but that does not dissuade her.  She says in halting English, “I know it is not a usual job for a woman.  I can’t explain – I just like it.” Whether she likes it for its creative aspects, or the financial security through fare trade that the work provides, she intends to make the most of it.

And though I doubt that she was tuned in to the Macy’s celebration as we were the other night, I think Rosetania could sing of her dream along with Cher and her other “sisters” at the New York City pier: “All the women of the world stand up, come together now.  This is a woman’s world!”


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

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