Meet the women using radio to take a stand against violence

For women in Haiti, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant job insecurity, financial strain and soaring levels of gender-based violence. Marjorie Colo and Shella Cayo are supporting  women in their community to use their voices to fight injustice during this crisis.


“I am determined to fight for [women] using the media. I fight to achieve the awareness of women so they can know their worth, their rights and the need for them to include themselves in everything that happens in their community,” says Shella.

Shella is  speaking out against gender inequality in Haiti through their feminist radio show, ‘ANN KOZE’. Each  week, she is joined by her co-host, Marjorie, to  discuss the feminist movement and inspire women to take a stand against injustice.

“The objective of the programme is to inform women about their rights,” says Shella. “Once they know, raise their awareness so they can fight against the situation that they are experiencing.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the radio show has supported women in their community to protect themselves and their families from the spread of the virus. Both Shella and Marjorie explain that women have been among those most affected by the pandemic. 

When women are the main providers of the household, they are working in crowded markets and putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus.

“They are exposed to many risks related to the disease because they are using public spaces, with lots of people going about…When you have no other option but to go out and sell your goods to make a living, that makes you more vulnerable to the disease,”says Shella.

Lockdowns, financial insecurity and job losses have also led to an increase in violence against women in Haiti. Shella says, “with fewer hours at work and companies that have shut down, women spend more time at home and domestic violence is most likely to occur when you spend more time in a home where it exists.” 

The increase in gender-based violence has compelled Haitian women to speak out against social injustice and corruption. 

“Women must unite to fight to change women’s lives,” Marjorie says . “If women do not report the violence, if they do not establish that the system is not beneficial to them, if they do not fight, then nobody will.”

By informing women about their rights when faced with gender based violence, and how they can respond to this violence, Shella and Marjorie hope to support their sisters to fight for change.

“The objective is to train women. By training, I mean to raise their awareness because to rebel against something you have to know what it is and be aware that it is not right,” Shella says. 

Shella and Marjorie work with ActionAid Haiti’s local partner CROSS, an organisation that stands with Haitian women in times of crisis. CROSS uses Radio Forè to support women to claim their rights.