When Haiti was struck by an earthquake in 2021, the country was already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability. The disaster has increased the risk of violence that Haitian women and girls face, especially those living with disabilities.
“The insecurity and the current socio-political context have disrupted the many advocacy efforts to recognize the different forms of violence against women living with a disability, and to inform them of their rights and duties”, explains Esther Randiche, director Executive of Initiative for Development. Equitable in Haiti (IDEH).
Funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (United Nations Trust Fund), IDEH manages a project in two provinces of Haiti, GonaÃ¯ves and Hinche , to prevent violence against women and girls living with disabilities and to support survivors. The project raises awareness of gender-based violence in the community, while ensuring better access to inclusive and non-discriminatory services for survivors. It also offers leadership training for women with disabilities. However, as with many essential services, IDEH services have also been disrupted by the crises.
Earlier in 2021, a fire destroyed a temporary camp that housed several women survivors of violence living with disabilities, including some IDEH beneficiaries, killing at least two people and leaving many more injured and displaced. Soon after, the earthquake brought more devastation. With support from the United Nations Trust Fund, IDEH activated an Emergency Fund to distribute food parcels and sanitary hygiene kits to 150 survivors living with disabilities. The fund also helped provide medical and psychosocial support and set up a mobile clinic for women living with disabilities.
With the Emergency Fund, IDEH has also organized self-care activities for staff who have also been deeply affected by the multiple and ongoing crises.
âThe Fund has enabled us to provide a safety net to our beneficiaries and to strengthen the resilience of our organization,â explained Esther Randiche. Building your own resilience was essential to continue serving female survivors. IDEH had already had a rough start in the project’s first year as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country in 2020. At the time, the Fund’s five-point plan UN Special Assignment has helped organizations like IDEH adapt quickly and continue to help. women victims of violence.
IDEH was able to distribute health kits and food to surviving women, prepare materials in Braille on gender-based violence for visually impaired and blind women at risk of violence, so that they could obtain verified information and access available services. Through the grant from the United Nations Trust Fund, IDEH collaborated with other local organizations of people with disabilities to train government institutions to provide inclusive services for people with disabilities as part of their response to COVID -19.
Globally, women and girls with disabilities are twice as likely to be survivors of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, and up to three times more at risk of rape. In Haiti, women and girls living with disabilities often face discrimination when trying to access justice or health services.
Despite the many challenges that IDEH has faced, over 100 women living with disabilities are now more aware of their rights and also able and more likely to identify and report cases of gender-based violence. About 150 female survivors have received immediate assistance through IDEH since the pandemic and earthquake. In addition, IDEH is working with other local organizations to increase their understanding of violence against women and girls living with disabilities, so that they are better equipped to help surviving women with disabilities to seek redress. lawsuit.
âDespite the multiple challenges, IDEH’s ability to adapt, recalibrate and come back with creative solutions and its commitment to serving Haiti’s most marginalized women is truly inspiring. Each time, they come back stronger and more determined to act, âsaid Mila Ioncheva, portfolio manager of the United Nations Trust Fund.
The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated to the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women. women. For 16 Days of Activism, join the Trust Fund’s # Give25forUNTF25 fundraising challenge, marking 25 years of providing grants to support women’s organizations around the world.