16 Days of Activism | Addressing GBV in Haiti
BY GUERDA CONSTANT
Gender-based violence in Haiti is present, yet subtle. The women we work with in our community still depend on men to meet their family’s needs and their participation in community meetings is low. Since the women typically have children who require their attention, it makes it difficult for women to engage in activities that are imperative to their own personal growth and development. We do provide various activities for our women such as dialogue groups that provide a forum for women to discuss complex issues as well as host leadership trainings. We also encourage women to take leadership roles on local committees such as the Committee of Childcare and Mutual Solidarity.
The Light of Life Foundation’s approach to gender-based violence is unique because it is based on participation and reflection. It involves the use of text as well as pictures to address different topics such as rape, child abuse, reproductive health, and child domesticity.
The texts create and encourage discussions between men and women who are actively involved in our reflection circles. As a result of this dialogue, men have begun to realize that women are capable of reflection and that these conversations, although slow-moving, directly benefit women and children. We feel that our work is designed to help build a society that is based on social justice and equality for both men and women.
Seeing men and women sit together to think about problems within their communities is great. As a result of this facilitated dialogue, our reflection circles have enabled several couples to reconcile marital differences, and have also provided a platform for women to request communication and dialogue from their male partner.
By not addressing gender-based violence issues directly, but rather using methods that facilitate discussions regarding common problems, we have eliminated the tension between men and women when discussing gender equality.
The struggle for equality between men and women goes beyond the issue of equalization. It is imperative, essential, and useful for the well-being of humanity; it is a well-being that concerns everyone in their sphere of activity, and thus, everyone should work to achieve it. For us in Haiti, ending violence against women begins with improving women’s access to education and promoting their economic independence. It is important that we, as an organization, continue to facilitate integration and support women who aspire to hold political positions.
To reduce gender-based violence, it is crucial that we train our Haitian women and equip them with the necessary skills to become leaders; establishing a level playing field for men and women will promote change within our system.