Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ensuring Haitian Women’s Participation and Leadership in All Stages of National Relief and Reconstruction

This photograph by Paula Allen is of Haitian Feminist Leader Myriam Merlet (1953-2010), who was killed by the Earthquake in January 2010.

[image is from here]

While I have posted on the loss of Haitian feminists in the recent past, I post this image of one feminist and information about them all and their work to remember once more these three women who perished in the aftermath of the earthquake. The earthquake was never solely a natural disaster, and remains, for women, very much a male domination-made disaster which is not at all natural. For more, see what follows next, from *here*. Following this article and the related links, please read "An Open Letter to Donors of the Haiti Reconstruction", which is from *here*. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

3 Haitian Women’s Rights Leaders Dead

Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of Haiti’s most important women and girl’s advocacy groups, are confirmed dead in the aftermath of the recent Haiti earthquake.

Myriam Merlet was until recently chief of staff of Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women and continued to serve as a top advisor. She was also one of the founders of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media, collects stories and works to honor their names.

Magalie Marcelin, also a lawyer and actress, established Kay Fanm, a women’s rights organization that deals with domestic violence, offers services and shelter to women and makes microcredits, or loans, available to women working in markets.

Anne Marie Coriolan served alongside Myriam Merlet as a top adviser to the women’s rights ministry. She founded Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), an advocacy and services organization.

In honor of these women and to continue the legacy of their work and advocacy groups, please visit the sites below that link to information on Enfofamn, Kay Fanm, and Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA). (Note: some page are in French but can be translated by Google if needed.)

Additional Links:
A document Haitian Women’s Rights Organisations worked on (available only in French):
Pour la cause des femmes, avançons!
Un modèle de plaidoyer dans la lutte des organisations de défense des droits des femmes haïtiennes

(Onward for Women! An Advocacy Model in the Struggle Waged by Haitian Women’s Rights Organisations)
More on Myriam Merlet:
The Guardian:
Women’s E-News:
Women’s Media Center:

An Open Letter to Donors of the Haiti Reconstruction

We are a coalition of women from diverse backgrounds working both on the ground in Haiti and within the international arena. As organizations committed to partnering with Haitian women to ensure their effective participation in rebuilding Haiti, we call upon donor governments to declare and adhere to internationally recognized standards of women’s human rights in forthcoming relief and reconstruction investments. Such a human-rights based approach is mandated by international law and crucial to rebuilding Haiti on a more sustainable, equitable and disaster-resilient foundation.

In recent weeks, Haitian government officials and global stakeholders representatives have worked to draft a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) to serve as a blueprint for Haiti’s reconstruction. Although the PDNA is comprised of eight themes: governance, productive sectors, social sectors, infrastructure sectors, territorial development, environment and disaster risk reduction, economic analysis and cross-cutting sector (including gender, youth, culture, social protection, etc), only one theme (cross-cutting sector) peripherally addresses gender.

Women’s full participation and leadership in all phases of the reconstruction of Haiti (as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and other internationally recognized standards) requires that a gender perspective be integrated into ongoing discussions and planning.

Women in Haiti are disproportionately impacted by the earthquake, both because they face gender discrimination, exposing them to higher rates of poverty and violence; and because they are responsible for meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, including infants, children, the elderly and the thousands of newly disabled people. Because disasters amplify existing social inequalities, a gender perspective is needed to avoid recovery policies that inadvertently reproduce discrimination against women. We respectfully remind donor governments of their obligation to ensure that policies are non-discriminatory in outcome as well as intent.

To overcome discrimination and to fulfill their roles as primary care-givers, Haitian women require and are legally entitled to a policy architecture that upholds the full range of their human rights, including social and economic rights. Women’s leadership and care-giving work should be recognized and supported by policy and program mandates and transparent resource commitments that enable women to play meaningful, sustained and formal roles in all stages of the relief and recovery process.

We applaud the actions of donor States to assist the people of Haiti in this time of crisis, and present the following principles to help guide governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders in providing for the protection and promotion of women’s human rights in the reconstruction plan for Haiti.

We respectfully remind donors that the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement call on governments to consult with Haitian women and ensure their participation in decisions that impact their lives. Effective consultations enable participants to actually influence outcomes and are anchored in formal partnerships with Haitian women’s groups (particularly local grassroots groups), who are empowered and resourced to take public leadership in the process of reconstruction.

The Donors' Conference must ensure Haitian women’s effective participation and leadership in all stages of the National Relief and Reconstruction Plan by implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement:

• Participation: Haitian women are disproportionately impacted by the crisis as well as key to their country’s recovery. Therefore a large and diverse number of Haitian women’s organizations must be consulted and included in needs and damage assessments, and in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all aid and reconstruction programs. Financing of women’s community-based organizations is essential to ensuring that women’s rights are upheld in forthcoming policies and that displaced women are recognized as a key stakeholder group.

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