The Crisis That Haitian Women Are Facing in Haiti Today
By Anonymous on Monday, January 23, 2006.
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With a climate of growing insecurity and increasing violence in Haiti today, women are facing insurmountable challenges. In Haiti, women are looked upon as a form of social protection or glue for their family. In fact, they support a large majority of Haiti’s economic activities in the non-formal sector which makes up 75% of Haiti’s economy.
Unfortunately, in recent months, Haitian women have encountered daunting problems and the current situation of women highly resembles the era of 1991-94 when women were victimized by a campaign of violence including rape and murder. Today, this has been magnified to include random kidnappings and beatings. Since January 1, 2006 there have been on average 30 kidnappings a day ; mostly in the environs of the capital Port au Prince. And these are the kidnappings that have been reported ; meaning that scores of addtional kidnapping go unnoticed because many victim’s family’s feel that the Haitian police can not help because of their lack of professionality and their fear they might be involved somehow.
Many of these kidnapping have happened to poor women in popular neighborhoods or in Creole, katyé popilé. You do not have to be a rich to be kidnapped in Haiti today. Because of these deepening insecurites, women, who make up the majority of the non-formal sector, have had enormous problems to make ends meet. Women selling on the street have seen a large decline in their sales near their neighborhoods where they work because people are nervous to take to the streets. In some cases, this has forced women to make the trek to the safer area of Pétion-ville, located in the hills above Port au Prince. If you walk through the streets of Pétion-ville today, it is inundated with street vendors. Sadly, because of this, the women that make the trek to Pétion-ville, have to pay double or triple in transport costs which equates to these women making a deficit instead of a profit, small as it might be.
Marjorie, a market woman selling oranges outside of Appollo meat market in Pétion-ville told me that she came up to Pétion-ville from downtown because she was afraid to sell at Croix des Bossales, the largest market downtown, because of the roving gangs in that area. She had been robbed 3 times and beaten by her attackers. She was frightened and thusly was afraid to return to her stall. So, she came to Pétion-ville which has been considered somewhat calmer than other areas (although in recent days this has been changing). She says that she has been making a deficit for the past week because she has to pay more for transportation, but she does not know what else to do. She says she can’t just sit at her house and wait for things to calm down. She has 5 children that need to eat and her husband died 3 month ago from an undiagnosed illness . She said they did not have the 150 HTG for the doctor’s consultation fee. Today, she is the only one in the house that can provide for her children and that she hopes that maybe tomorrow she will sell enough to feed her children.
As a result of this deepening crisis, women are often forced to use sex as a means to respond to the social economic risks that they are experiencing ; meaning they use sex as a strategic alternative to keep their family afloat. In doing so, they expose themselves to many risks including sexually transmittable diseases such HIV/AIDS which could potentially threaten their own lives as well as the lives of their family.
QIFD’s goal is to fight against the vulnerability of women while setting up social protection mechanisms that will allow women to better mange their social risks.
Our Target Population for this program includes women in vulnerable situations including: heads of family, prostitutes (specifically targeting thoses that are under age, are the heads of their families, young mothers and those who are pregnant and those that are young mothers. The most vulnerable group of women in this group are those that resdie in the most impoverished and overpopulated neghborhoods, known as katyé popilé. These areas have become was zones where feuding gangs are victimizing the population ; especially women and young girls
We anticipate to accomplish the following objectives through this program:
1. The increase of social and cognitive capital to help these women make better choices in the management of risks
2. Provide health training and services to lower the health risks of at risk women.
3. To accompany and support the development of economic enterprises of vulnerable women which will aid in the decrease of prostitution of both women and minors.
4. To increase the organizational capacities of the women and to provide essential skills for them to be able to take more leadership roles within their communities.
In order to obtain these objectives, are work will be designed as follows :
Axe 1 - Education
- Functional Literacy that concentrates on the emergence of vulnerable women’s capacities to better understand their conditions and to create an outlet to rise up out of these conditions.
Axe 2 – Women’s Health and Community Health
- Women’s health training with the manual, “Where There is No Doctor for Women”;
Axe 3 – Socio-Economic Reinforcement
To put in place a social and economic development fund oriented towards:
- Access to micro-credit
Axe 4 – The construction of Organizational Capacities
- The organization of women into a structure that represents the interests of vulnerable women and offers a space to structure the women as actors of their own development and the development of their community.
Our first program will target women living in three popular neighborhoods including Bois Moquette, Jalousie and Morne Hercule in Port au Prince. We hope that this program will be a prototype for us to enter other neighborhoods and implement the same sort of project. Women are the « poto mitan » of Haitian families and if we do not do something now, life in Haiti for the majority of Haitians will continue to decline. QIFD will not stand by and let this happen. We are strongly committed to projects that empower communities and that have a long-term, positive impact. Development for us is something that is supposed to create a positive change and we believe that this type of program will do just that.
See QIFD's projects by clicking here.
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