The room was filled with Haitian grassroots women leaders who were learning about civic participation and their country’s political system, who were strategizing together and who were sharing their stories. As I looked around, I thought, “All of us in this room have either survived rape or know someone who has.”
Since the earthquake, we have seen the tremendous suffering of women and girls facing an epidemic of sexual violence in Haiti’s displacement camps. But we have also seen their tremendous courage in confronting this threat.
They have had the courage to organize in the camps to prevent rape and to care for survivors. And they’ve had the courage to insist that this violence must end. By being at the training, they learned how to focus their power as citizens, to pass laws and to reach all Haitians with the message that violence against women can be stopped.
This gathering was part of a series of trainings conducted in partnership with MADRE, the Heartland Alliance and KOFAVIV. The trainings are designed to equip Haitian women to ensure that they are not left behind as Haiti is rebuilt. At each event, women learn about their human rights, build their capacity and network with each other. They learn to take action on pressing policy questions that affect them, such as ensuring security in the displacement camps, improving medical services for women and girls, and boosting women’s political participation.
Below are some of the photos that we took of these incredibly brave women.