Interview with Suze Charles, Haiti Country Director

Can you tell us about yourself and your history with buildOn?

I am Charles Suze Melay. I am the third of five children. When I was 12, I lost my father, and luckily I am fortunate enough to enjoy the presence of my mother and my four other siblings still today. I am a married African woman and mother of a beautiful boy. I have a degree in economics and a bachelor’s degree in management.

I have 24 years of professional experience, including eight years with buildOn and six and a half years as a manager in Haiti. My story with buildOn is really enriching since this is how I learned to live a little more the reality of my country, and to develop a sense of empathy, of resilience to cultivate a passion for the possible by the way of working with people in the communities. My commitment to the buildOn mission is growing bigger and bigger. The work we do allows me to see life differently and to cultivate a slightly deeper personal vision. My adventure has only just begun.

You are the first female Country Director in Haiti. What does this achievement mean to you? 

It is an honor for me to be the first female director in Haiti. Leading as a woman in Haiti is not an easy thing, especially now in this difficult time when the unemployment rate is high and the rights of women are being trampled on. This achievement is one of the greatest of my professional life.

What are you most proud of during your time as a Country Director in Haiti? 

Since becoming director, I am proud to be able to lead a team, of which more than 75% are male, and to be able to represent buildOn everywhere in Haiti. 

Is it common to have women in leadership positions in Haiti? 

No, it’s not common to have women in leadership positions in Haiti.

Why is it important in Haiti – and everywhere – to have women in leadership roles? 

It is important to have women in leadership roles to help promote women all over the world.

Gender inequality can’t be tolerated and it must be banned globally. Equality is essential to sustainable development and women must experience it everywhere – in offices and at home.

Decisions must come from women. By proving their talent, the whole world will understand the important place of women in society, which will also enable them to understand the importance of girls in school.

What are some of the challenges/barriers that keep girls and women in Haiti from achieving their goals? 

Many people do not see a woman or girl as a leader. Also, another barrier is that girls are sometimes restricted or have very limited opportunities to attend school or university. A lack of education prevents women from achieving full autonomy.

Do you have any advice for young women in Haiti and around the world? 

I advise all the young women to always remember and believe that they are brave; that they are fighters; and that they are queens. And always, always gain as much knowledge as you can.