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Project Update from Haiti: Human Rights Advocacy Training for Grassroots Women

Human Rights Advocacy Training for Grassroots Women in Haiti

During the recent trip to Haiti by MADRE, our human rights advocacy staff conducted a two-day training session. It was organized with KOFAVIV and other Haitian women's grassroots organizations at the WE-LEAD Center, a technology and leadership training center for women. The purpose of the training was to build skills to effectively document and seek justice for the human rights violations that so many women have endured. 

Since the earthquake, community-based organizations have struggled to have their voices heard by policymakers. They have been left in the dark by foreign organizations who have taken control of the reconstruction process, and they are looking for ways to advocate around critical issues. Our partners came to us and asked MADRE to serve as a bridge to build communication between the UN decision-makers and grassroots women. As one woman said, "It is difficult for us to understand what all of these different groups are, where they are from and what exactly they are doing here in Haiti."

In an effort to bridge this gap, MADRE conducted outreach to representatives from the UN peacekeeping mission, the gender division of the UN police, UNFPA and the chief of staff from the Haitian Women's Ministry to attend the training. Participants from the grassroots organizations got a chance a chance to learn what these groups do in Haiti and had the opportunity to ask hard questions such as, "Why aren't you patrolling the camps?" and "What are you doing to control the violence?

We also prepared a human rights training manual. We worked to explain and demystify international human rights mechanisms and to provide concrete tools for grassroots women to advocate within those mechanisms. The participants learned how to give testimony on topics that included housing, sexual violence, camp conditions and police accountability. The testimony was prepared following basic advocacy guidelines to convey "who I am, what happened to me and what needs to happen."

As a result of these trainings, we have already heard reports that UN agencies have been in communication with the grassroots groups. This is welcome news, and MADRE will continue to push for ways for the voices of grassroots women to be heard.

Photos from the project:

To learn more about these photos, click on each one for a description.

To read part one of the Haiti work trip update, click here. 

This trip was the first for Yifat Susskind as MADRE's new Executive Director. She shared her thoughts and observations with us through the myMADRE blog; a compilation of her blog entries can be found here.