Making Haitian Womens Voices Heard


The humanitarian response in Haiti must take account of the needs and responsibilities of women given their central role in ensuring family and community well-being. This was the key message of representatives of Haitian women's organizations in a meeting with President Preval and the UN Special Envoy, President Clinton, on February 5th, 2010. They also stressed the importance of women's participation in decision making and in defining future priorities.

Recognizing that the State and civil society are essential partners in responding to the current challenges in Haiti, women's organizations encouraged the Special Envoy to advocate in favor of support to the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Women's Rights to enable it to respond to the aftermath of the earthquake and to the needs of women and their families. They also drew attention to the need to provide support to women's organizations which have in turn been severely affected by the disaster of January 12, 2010.

Minister Marjory Michel spoke of the increased vulnerability of women to sexual and gender-based violence in the aftermath of natural disasters. She emphasized the need for widely available prevention and protection services in collaboration with women's organizations and saluted the partnership developed with UNIFEM around this critical issue for women.

This is the second of such meetings since President Clinton was named Special Envoy in 2009. The Special Envoy assured the meeting that gender equality and ensuring women's participation are critical to the United Nations System in all humanitarian, early recovery and development efforts.