Women's Human Rights Are Key to Successful Reconstruction in Haiti
Posted on: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In the traumatic weeks after the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, survivors have endured the loss of loved ones, severe injuries, shortages of food and water, collapsed homes and constant fear of renewed aftershocks. Through it all, we have witnessed the dignity and resilience of the Haitian people and the solidarity of women’s rights activists throughout the region and the world. Haitians have dug neighbors out of collapsed buildings, cared for orphaned children and shared dwindling food supplies. A network of women’s organizations—in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the broader Latin American and Caribbean region and around the world—have come together with MADRE to provide urgent medical aid and reproductive healthcare, document human rights abuses and give Haitian women the means to raise their voices.
Today, as disaster response shifts from the search-and-rescue phase to rebuilding and reconstruction, Haiti is at a crossroad. It could recreate the status quo ante of economic misery, predatory government and widespread human rights abuses; or rebuild in ways that promote human rights and true development, including much-needed resiliency to disaster.
Realizing the latter vision will require the effective participation of Haitian women in the rebuilding process. In a society devastated by disaster, the opportunity to participate in relief and reconstruction efforts is a means to empowerment through access to jobs, resources and skills-training. Participation in the reconstruction process must therefore include Haitian community-based and women's organizations, which represent the majority of the population, those most deeply impacted by the disaster and those who have been historically excluded from decision-making in Haiti.
Right now, there is a window of opportunity to ensure that Haiti’s reconstruction process upholds the full range of women’s human rights and uses gender awareness as a starting point for successful recovery efforts. Nothing less than the future of Haiti is at stake.
Women’s Organizations Must Play Leadership Roles After such a disaster, women are confronted with many challenges. They face an increased risk of sexual abuse and violence, particularly at the hands of an intimate partner. They lose essential access to reproductive healthcare services. They may be denied property rights to rebuilt homes. They may be passed over in aid distributions that target male heads-of-household. Haitian women’s organizations are uniquely positioned to recognize and respond to these threats, which may go unnoticed if a so-called “gender-neutral” approach is adopted for humanitarian aid and reconstruction.
Reconstruction efforts that operate in partnership with community-based women’s organizations can mobilize Haitian women’s expertise—as first-responders, caregivers, farmers, teachers, healthcare providers, income-earners and human rights defenders—in the service of broader efforts to rebuild communities. Women can and must play leadership roles, drawing from their knowledge of environmental resources to support agriculture or tapping into informal but vibrant social networks to efficiently direct needed support to the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly.
For decades, MADRE has worked with local women’s organizations in Haiti and worldwide, partnering with them to meet urgent community needs in ways that advance human rights and social justice for the long-term. This is the model for successful reconstruction in Haiti today.
Though international donors are preparing for an aid pledging conference in March, now is the time to prioritize and integrate gender into Haiti’s reconstruction process.
MADRE calls on all parties to the reconstruction process, including the Haitian government, foreign governments, the United Nations and non-governmental agencies to:
- Consult with and include Haitian women’s organizations in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all relief and reconstruction programs;
- Operate within a human rights framework, upholding principles of transparency, accountability, capacity development, participation and non-discrimination;
- Adopt relevant provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for the full participation of women at all levels of reconstruction.
Archives"Press Room" Home October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)
Women's Organizations Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence in Iraq (Girls' Globe, October 1, 2014)
We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an 'anti-jihad'? (Reuter, October 1, 2014)
Breaking the gridlock of climate change negotiations: learning from allies (openDemocracy, September 29, 2014)
Arab and Jewish midwives find a common language (Haaretz, September 12, 2014)