WDN members believe that more women in power and leadership roles in Haiti is critical to a successful recovery from the devastation of the earthquake. Our work focused on supporting projects that could help ensure women’s full participation during the rebuilding process.
Formed in 2010, the Haiti Circle focused on identifying the opportunities that existed post-earthquake to create structural change and a more equitable life for Haitian women. Our Circle’s formation was inspired by WDN’s day-long program on Haitian Women and Girls: Creating Safe Spaces, Confronting National Recovery, and Building a New Future of Equality in 201o. Organized in partnership with the UN Foundation, this program focused on ways in which international and local communities could help ensure women’s full participation during Haiti’s rebuilding process.
The Haiti Circle addressed women’s exclusion from decision-making and formal governance processes in Haiti, and invested in organizations that addressed legal barriers and cultural discrimination in areas such as land rights, systematic violence against women and girls, and women’s lack of access to economic opportunities. We also conducted educational activities for our members on the challenges facing Haitians and effective strategies to bring women and children to the forefront of post-disaster reconstruction efforts.
In 2011, the Haiti Circle supported Femmes en Democratie, which designed a host of non-partisan campaign materials that could be used to educate voters about the issues facing women and children who have been the targets of gender-based violence. In the 2011 election, six women who used this messaging were elected, a slight increase from the number of women in the last Haitian Parliament. A new Constitutional mandate that women make up at least 30% of government positions in Haiti, including the cabinet, was another encouraging change.
The Haiti Circle was also engaged with the work of We Advance, which has served as a coordinator for all the small women’s groups on the ground that have not had access to many resources, including USAID funding.
The Haiti Circle closed in 2014, however many WDN members continue to be engaged in international women’s empowerment projects with a focus on community-led solutions.