A child of Haitian immigrants, Taina Bien-Aimé grew up seeing strong women hold court around the kitchen table. In fact, in her youth she was convinced that society was matriarchal, that the women were in charge. But between her parents’ honesty about gender-based discrimination, and the explosion of the women’s movement in the 1970s, Bien-Aimé became painfully aware of global patterns of violence against women.
Still, it wasn’t until her winding life-path led her to law school at NYU that Bien-Aimé understood her own power to make change. “Children of immigrants often see power systems as intractable,” she says. “What NYU taught me was that you could dismantle harmful institutions.” In that spirit, Bien-Aimé became a founding board member of Equality Now, an international, grassroots organization, established in 1992, that builds coalitions to combat gender-based violence wherever it appears.
Bien-Aimé has spent 25 years raising up the voices of women around the world. She has helped pass legislation outlawing female genital mutilation, child marriage, and sexual violence. She has developed policies within the UN, the US State Department, and other far-reaching institutions. And now, as the Executive Director of The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, she is working to end the awful practice of sex-trafficking in our lifetime. “The resistance to change is fierce,” she says. “Fortunately, so is our global movement.”