Martha and I have been privileged to meet several people in the Seattle area that have direct experience working in Haiti. These new found friends have been a source of encouragement and have taught us much about what we can expect in Haiti. One such friend invited us to join her this past week for a talk given by Anne-Christine d’Adesky, hosted by the World Affairs Council. The talk was titled “What About the Women? The role of women in post-quake Haiti” and focused on the difficulties facing women following the 2010 quake and highlighted some triumphs. D’Adesky is a journalist, author, filmmaker, and gender rights advocate with extensive experience in Haiti so the stories and information she shared regarding women in Haiti was raw and telling. Gender specific programs (both from aid groups and the public sector) in Haiti receive little funding in comparison to other sectors such as agriculture and health. Additionally, women in Haiti are particularly vulnerable to domestic assault and sexual violence. The fact that the country is still recovering from the massive earthquake over two years ago just exacerbates their plight.
Our experience and future work is within the context of community development and the non-government organization (NGO). Therefore, I found myself asking the question “What does this information mean for NGOs, specifically for Martha and I in our future work, and how can we come alongside women in Haiti?” D’Adesky provided some sound recommendations for what can be improved and two particularly stuck out to me:
1. Bring women in Haiti to the table. Include women in the decisions being made that effect their lives and families. Allow them to participate not only in the rebuilding of their own lives and strengthening of their rights, but also in the rebuilding of their community and country.
2. Give women’s programs and services the attention and financial support they deserve.
This talk gave us a deeper understanding of the situation for many women in Haiti today. We hope to take this knowledge and turn it into action. Martha and I don’t have a ton of influence or power, but the energy and skills we do have will certainly be used to empower and strengthen women in our sphere. We are looking forward to sharing with you first hand about how World Concern is using its’ resources and leverage to support women in Haiti. To see what World Concern is up to in Haiti please follow this link and then click on “Haiti” on the right hand side of the page.