Political instability, chronic poverty, and crime all contribute to a high prevalence of gender-based violence and discrimination against Haitian women and girls. While Haiti’s Constitution protects women from workplace discrimination as well as physical and sexual abuse, and guarantees the right to political participation, in practice women routinely face exclusion and harassment in public and private life. Haiti has an active women’s movement, yet women face higher rates of unemployment, are more likely to suffer poor health outcomes, and are less likely to own land or hold political office than men. Women seeking political office face considerable obstacles, including patriarchal attitudes toward leadership, lack of financial support, and threats of violence and intimidation. However, some progress has been made. In 2012, the Parliament passed an amendment instituting a 30 percent quota for women in all elected and appointed positions at the national level, and the 2015 Electoral Decree added the same quota for local councils and political candidates.
Local institutions - private sector partners, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cooperatives, associations and universities - serve as engines of growth and opportunity in Haiti. A key part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) strategy is to improve the capacity of local Haitian institutions and organizations, while at the same time ensuring rigorous oversight of its assistance funds. Empowering the people of Haiti is critical, and USAID is working to help strengthen local organizations through partnerships, in addition to maintaining its close traditional partnership with the Government of Haiti (GOH). By forming local partnerships, USAID makes its work more effective and sustainable, and reduces the need for foreign aid over time.
Inadequate and insufficient healthcare facilities have been a significant roadblock to improving poor healthcare services in Haiti for generations. According to the Ministry of Health, even before the earthquake, Haiti’s health care system was not capable to respond to the population’s need for basic healthcare services. The 2010 earthquake worsened the situation, destroying 50 healthcare centers as well as the Ministry of Health building and further limiting access to healthcare for Haitians. The earthquake also destroyed part of Haiti’s primary teaching hospital, disrupting the education of future healthcare professionals. The challenges resulting from this deficit are compounded by other serious infrastructure shortfalls such as the poor conditions of remaining structures and the lack of clean water and adequate sanitation.
A longstanding challenge in Haiti, the deficit of adequate, affordable housing was significantly exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a critical role in the housing and settlements sector in Haiti both during the immediate response to the 2010 earthquake and now as Haiti works to rebuild. Having shifted gears from essential emergency relief to long-term development, USAID is now concentrating on finding solutions to barriers for adequate supply of affordable housing stock in the country. By collaborating with the Government of Haiti (GOH) and leveraging key partnerships, USAID is focusing on upgrading infrastructure in existing neighborhoods and increasing access to housing finance. This approach builds on Haitian citizens’ own efforts to secure improved housing and create settlements solutions themselves.
Haiti reports some of the world’s worst health indicators; these numbers reflect a reality, which continues to inhibit citizens’ full participation in the development of a prosperous and stable nation. While Haiti has struggled with poor health outcomes for generations, the already weak health system was further debilitated by the 2010 earthquake, which demolished 50 health centers, part of Haiti’s primary teaching hospital, and the Ministry of Health. Only months later, Haiti’s health care network was further tried by the country’s first cholera outbreak in a century.
Last updated: November 29, 2016