Gender equality and social inclusion at the core of gender-based violence prevention in Haiti

By Vanessa Racine, social media coordinator
In honour of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the Canadian Red Cross is highlighting our efforts to prevent and fight gender-based violence in our communities and around the world.
Haiti is experiencing a major security, social, economic and public health crisis. A recent report by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner documents sexual crimes against women, girls and boys of all ages and to a lesser extent men. LGBTI+ people are also targeted by these crimes.
 Several people sit around a table, all wearing white Red Cross shirts, watching a screen in front of the room.
The Canadian Red Cross has a longstanding partnership with the Red Cross in Haiti. For more than 31 years we have been working together to meet the immense humanitarian needs in the country.
A long-term recovery project

Thanks to the generosity of the Canadian population and government, the Canadian Red Cross has been working since 2021 with the Haitian Red Cross on a recovery project aiming to improve health services and support to community members.
Three projects are underway in Haiti. The goal of one of them is to improve emergency health services provided to women, people with disabilities and the elderly in under-served urban areas of Carrefour-Feuilles and Tabarre in Port-au-Prince, as well as their resilience. One line of intervention aims to strengthen the capacity of Haitian Red Cross volunteers to provide basic emergency care services in their own communities. Raising awareness of protection, gender, inclusion and community engagement (PGIE) issues among volunteers is essential, as they are at the forefront of emergency interventions. About 100 volunteers and paid staff were trained to provide basic health services in a way that takes these issues into consideration.
 A woman wearing a mask and a white Red Cross sweater, standing in front of a sign with the Red Cross logo.
Wana Jean-Baptiste, a PGIE Officer for the Haitian Red Cross 

Volunteer training

To this end, four PGIE training sessions were offered in June and July 2022 to volunteers in the commune of Tabarre. At the end of the four weeks’ training, 79 volunteers, 41 of them women, had been trained.
These trainings were organized by Wana Jean-Baptiste, a PGIE Officer for the Haitian Red Cross who is doing phenomenal work with the volunteers despite the difficult situation.
Several modules were covered over the few days of training to ensure that the new concepts were well integrated. “Volunteers facilitate outreach sessions in the community, which is diverse. Because they are in contact with people from all walks of life in the field, we want to make sure they don’t behave in ways that could be discriminatory”.
These trainings are mandatory, but very popular with volunteers. “Trainings by the Red Cross are one of the benefits for volunteers, and they are in high demand”, says Wana.
 Several people standing or sitting, wearing white Red Cross bibs, posing.
These trainings are essential because, according to some testimonies, some volunteers were not familiar with certain notions before the training, recounts Wana. “Religion is very important to Haitian culture, and members of the community are very devout. When we started the trainings, some modules were more difficult to approach, especially the one on gender diversity.”
Important work is also being done to promote gender equality in this patriarchal society. According to Wana, it is one of the biggest challenges. “There is still a long way to go to change mentalities in Haiti, but we’ve come a long way and we are really proud.”
Trainings will continue to be offered to volunteers and staff in Haiti in the coming months to insure that health services are provided in a way that respects issues of protection, gender equality, inclusion and community engagement. We salute Wana’s courage in continuing to lead these trainings despite a complex humanitarian 

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