Haiti: Women’s Equality Is the Key
UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman and Executive Director Inés Alberdi are in Haiti examining approaches for the role of women in rebuilding society after this year’s horrific earthquake, finding strategies to combat gender-based violence and to increase economic opportunities for women.
Nicole Kidman and Inés Alberdi visited the only shelter for female victims of violence in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, one managed by the UNIFEM partner Kay Fanm, where they came into contact with girls, some as young as 13, who had been kidnapped, beaten and abused, some of them with babies.
During their visit, Nicole Kidman and Inés Alberdi stated that there is "an urgent need to address gender-based violence among affected populations" while underlining the importance of sponsoring "long-term initiatives which advance women’s livelihoods as part of the rebuilding efforts".
Nicole Kidman stated on UNIFEM’s site: "During this trip I saw first-hand how this humanitarian disaster is impacting women and girls. The lack of shelter and security makes them more vulnerable to violence, in particular sexual violence". On a brighter note, she adds that "I have also seen the determination and resilience of women and men in Haiti to rebuild their country".
She stated that what she had seen at the shelter made her more determined to work towards making such facilities available on a wider scale, because women and girls who had been subjected to sexual violence had a home, a place where they felt safe and access to medical and legal services, along with counselling and training for job skills.
UNIFEM informs that a survey carried out in 2006 (before the earthquake) revealed that one in three women in Haiti had been the victims of sexual violence. There are huge disparities in access to education, resulting in the fact that the average annual salary for a woman in Haiti is 626 USD, compared with 1,695 USD for men.
UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi declared after the visit that the women of Haiti "need adequate and sustained support for their safety and security. There is also a critical need to address the longer term developmental needs of women, such as income opportunities and the restoration of schools for their children".
For Inés Alberdi, "Women must be centrally included in the planning of post-disaster relief and recovery. Significant funding must be directed to increase gender equality and gender equality must be a priority in Haiti. We must support the efforts of Haitian women and men to build a fairer and more durable society out of this tragedy."
Photos: Credit to UNIFEM/Catianne Tijerina