The World

Stability of Haiti's Reconstruction Hinges on Women

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Conditions have become worse for many Haitian women and girls after last year's earthquake, including access to reproductive health care, says Amanda M. Klasing. Their needs must be considered in every aspect of reconstruction and at each step.

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Many of the over 100 women and girls I've spoken with continue to face obstacles in getting these life-saving services. Many don't have basic information about where to get free medical services; others lack the less than $1 needed to transport them to a hospital to give birth.

These are not insurmountable obstacles, and they don't require expensive solutions. They require a broad recognition by decision-makers at the highest level in the government, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, donors and aid groups that women and girls matter. Their concerns are not something relegated to a few specialists.

The needs of women and girls should be considered in every aspect of reconstruction and at each step, from design to implementation to monitoring. All data--on displaced persons, flood victims, political violence, cholera deaths, political participation--should show how women and girls are affected. Gender-specific benchmarks should be designed to show progress toward reducing inequalities. Most important, clear avenues should be designed for women's participation.

In Haiti, women are called the "poto mitan," the pillars of society. They are also the foundation. Reconstruction that ignores women will leave Haiti more unstable than ever.

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Amanda Klasing is the Americas researcher for the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch and author of the organization's new report, "'Nobody Remembers Us': Failure to Protect Women's and Girls' Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti."

For more information:

'Nobody Remembers Us': Failure to Protect Women's and Girls' Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti, Human Rights Watch:
http://www.hrw.org/node/101167

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