OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HAITI

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WOMEN & GENDER

Key Statistics Prior to the January 2010 Earthquake

44 percent of all households are female headed households.1

60 percent of female headed households are living in extreme poverty.2

83 percent of economically active women work within the informal sector.3

26 percent of all women and girls (15 years+) have been victims of sexual and gender-based violence.4

Women comprise less than 13 percent of the Senate and 4 percent of the Lower Chamber.5

Despite significant progress in promoting women’s rights, considerable gender disparities persist.

I. Strategy & Priorities

The Government of Haiti has a Ministry of Gender and Women’s Rights (MCFDF) which is mandated to promote and defend women’s rights in keeping with international human rights obligations and to facilitate gender mainstreaming within the State. Haiti is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) since 1980 as well as a signatory to the Inter-American Convention on Violence Against Women (Belem Do Para). In 2008, the Government of Haiti presented its first report on the implementation of CEDAW and participated in a constructive dialogue with the CEDAW committee in Geneva in January 2009. The next report is due in 2010 with a view toward demonstrating continued progress towards gender equality and the elimination of gender disparities.6

In March 2008, under the aegis of the Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the Ministry reactivated the Gender Working Group (table sectorielle). This group is led by the Ministry of Gender and supported by UNIFEM and the Government of Spain. The working group brings together representatives of the Ministry and the principal financial and technical partners working in the area of gender equality and women’s rights, in order to facilitate increased alignment with and support of national priorities.

(i) Government Priorities

The Government’s national priorities are outlined in the Ministry’s Plan of Action (2008-2010) and include the following:
Elaboration and implementation of a national gender equality policy

Strengthening of the Ministry in its strategic and normative role

Promotion and protection of women’s rights with a focus on sexual and gender based violence

Improving the living conditions of women (economic empowerment etc.)

Awareness raising and training on women’s rights

(ii) International Community Priorities

The technical working group on gender issues, which brings together the principal international technical and financial partners, identified the following priorities which are aligned with the government’s priorities and which will contribute to achieving the objectives set forth in the Ministry’s Plan of Action.
Elaboration and implementation of a national gender equality policy

Supporting gender mainstreaming and gender responsive budgets as a means for implementing the gender equality policy

Promotion and defense of women’s rights with specific focus on the following: improved accountability and implementation of CEDAW and its recommendations; implementation of the National Action Plan on gender based violence; addressing the issues of trafficking of women and children; and implementation of actions supporting women’s political participation.

II. Challenges

Implementation of gender equality policy and increased accountability to international women human rights standards including CEDAW and regional conventions: Despite a certain degree of political will and an active women’s movement, it is essential to institutionalize state commitments to gender equality and to ensure that it is imbedded in policies and programs.

Addressing sexual and gender based violence through implementation of the national action plan and increased accountability among officials: While progress has been made in improving coordination, there is an increasing need to ensure implementation of the national action plan, to expand outreach services and access to justice for survivors of violence, to strengthen data collection, and to continue awareness building campaigns and actions addressing prevention.
Addressing “feminization” of poverty: Gender disparities in the economic sphere combined with the gender-specific impact of the financial crisis and the recent hurricanes have increased women’s vulnerability. There is a need to develop programs which address the issue of women’s economic empowerment through a diverse strategy.

Addressing the issue of women’s political participation: There is a need to strengthen the voice of women within decision making processes, both in elected office at the national and local levels, and in Government. Very few women have been elected to office - and Haiti is far below the international target of 30 percent representation by women. Toward this end, there is a need to increase the number of women involved in politics in order to increase women’s “voice”, and there is also a need to encourage both men and women in elected office to take into consideration women’s priorities.

Institutional development of the Ministry: There is a need to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry in both its strategic and normative role, as well as in its ability to ensure representation and outreach throughout the country. This requires not only capacity building for human resources but increased allocation of financial resources to the Ministry.

  1. CEDAW, Combined Reports 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 2002 and 2006, Haiti, p. 21 link (PDF)
  2. Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, PRSP, 2008-2010, p.24, link (PDF)
  3. CEDAW, Combined Reports, p. 95
  4. Government of Haiti, EMMUS IV, 2006, p. 298
  5. CEDAW, Combined Reports, p. 64
  6. More conventions about WHR : Convention on the Political Rights of Women,; Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children - supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; Eq