Tomorrow, representatives of donor governments will meet at a conference at the United Nations in New York to pledge their contributions to Haiti as the nation recovers from January’s catastrophic earthquake. Prior to the conference, a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) was prepared to serve as a blueprint for Haiti’s reconstruction. However, the PDNA lacks crucial analysis and recommendation of services for women’s health. Several women’s organizations have prepared a Gender Shadow Report, which will be launched tomorrow at a press conference, followed by a panel discussion featuring Haitian writer and activist Edwidge Danticat and Haitian human rights advocate Marie St. Cyr. The panel, which will be open to the public, will take place on March 31st at 1:15pm at the Boss Room on the 8th floor of the Church Center, at 44th Street & 1st Ave in New York.
The measures for the reconstruction of Haiti must respond to both immediate and long-term needs. In the wake of the earthquake, there has been an increase in cases of sexual violence against women. Among long-term needs for women in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the PDNA lacks measures such as:
• Training health providers on sexual and reproductive health and equipping medical facilities with the necessary diagnostic tools and supplies, including for maternity care and safe abortion as allowed by law as well as contraceptives, especially female and male condoms.
• Addressing the needs of women survivors of violence, including counseling, the provision of emergency contraception and HIV/AIDS prophylaxis treatment. It’s also important to make available forensic kits for collection of evidence and offer legal assistance to women to bring perpetrators of violence against women to justice.
• Reestablishing AIDS treatment, care and support including PMTCT, with special attention to the disproportionate burdens born by women.
• Ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and youth.
Despite the gaps of the PDNA, we hope all stakeholders involved in the reconstruction of Haiti take measures to properly address women’s rights and needs, including those in the field of sexual and reproductive rights and health.