Petition for an inclusive approach respecting the equality of women with disabilities in the National Policy for Equality of Women and Men (2014-2034) launched by the Haitian government on 6 March, 2015
Government of Haiti: Include women with disabilities in the National Gender Equality Policy
Sign the petition HERE.
We, the signatories of this petition, welcome the launch of the National Policy for Equality of Women and Men (2014-2034) by the government on March 6, 2015. The Haitian government, through this policy, signals that it
wants a country where women and men can enjoy equal opportunity to exercise their full rights, and to establish an inclusive Haitian society with strong social cohesion. Despite the nonchalance of the Haitian government in the application of its terms, this policy exists.
However, despite this so-called inclusive vision, women with disabilities are excluded, and have neither been invited nor consulted in the process beginning with the development of this policy and continuing up to the launch; this is an act of discrimination and marginalization. The non-inclusion of women with disabilities in the National Policy clearly demonstrates the situation of exclusion suffered by this category of persons. This strategic document with its six main objectives highlights the needs of Haitian women for the next twenty years without taking into account the needs of women with disabilities.
The six objectives for this Policy are: equal rights and justice, gender education, access to sexual and reproductive health, measures against violence, economic equality, and equal participation in decision-making bodies. In all of these objectives, women with disabilities are excluded, in violation of their civil and political rights, as well as their social and economic rights.
The first objective is “For equal rights and equal justice between women and men“. This Policy recognizes that inequalities of the criminal justice system “hit hardest those women belonging to vulnerable groups, such as women with disabilities.” Yet this Policy does not include objectives and measures to end the exclusion of women with disabilities in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is inaccessible and discriminatory, and as a result, these women are victimized twice: first, because of their sex, and second, because of their disability. In addition, they are diminished, devalued and ignored by some in the criminal justice system (police, judges, prosecutors, etc.) and are often not protected by the authorities who treat them as “kocobe”.
The second objective is “For a non-sexist education and egalitarian models.” It is an obligation to include women with disabilities in this objective because the right to education of women and girls with disabilities is not met; they are effectively excluded from education because of inaccessibility, discrimination, harassment and sexual abuse in the education system.
The third objective is “For access to sexual and reproductive health that respects the dignity of women.” This objective again excludes women with disabilities. This is gravely problematic because the right to sexual and reproductive health of women and girls with disabilities is considered taboo, while at the same time, they are subject to sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Furthermore, they lack access to information and to services that would allow them to better manage their health and protect themselves.
The fourth objective is “For the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.” The vulnerable and precarious situation of women with disabilities has not been addressed in this part of the Policy. This is despite the fact that, in reality, they face forms of abuse and exploitation that non-disabled women do not suffer. In addition, the abuse against women with disabilities is condoned as commonplace.
The fifth objective is “For economic equality and equal access to employment for women and men.” This objective does not consider women with disabilities. Although the Law on Integration of People with Disabilities provides for a quota of disabled persons in all private and public institutions, that provision is not applied. It does not take into account specific hurdles for women with disabilities such as the fact that buildings are not suitably accessible. Women with disabilities are, once again, marginalized.
The sixth objective is “For equal participation of women and men in decision-making.” This section does not mention women with disabilities. This is calamitous, because women with disabilities face particular problems regarding their participation in political activities. For example, inaccessible voting centers and discriminatory election campaigns based on stereotypes (such as those based on gender and disability), serve to intimidate and discourage women with disabilities to vote and also to run for elected office.
The reality of exclusion and vulnerability of women with disabilities is especially poignant in light of the killing of three deaf women, Jésula Germain, Vanessa Prévil and Monique Vincent. This tragedy highlights the need to include women with disabilities in measures to ensure their inclusion, their protection, their right to information, and to assure equality between men and women.
We, the undersigned, ask vehemently that this Policy for Equality between Women and Men be revised to take into account the needs of women with disabilities in all these objectives: justice, education, health, measures against violence, work, and participation in decision-making bodies. In addition, it is necessary to change this policy so that the state fulfills its national and international legal obligations.
According to the Haitian Constitution, international treaties, once ratified, are self-executing, and become part of the Haitian Law, abrogating any conflicting pre-existing laws. As this Policy has noted, the Constitution and several international conventions ratified by Haiti recognize equality between women and men and the principle of non-discrimination against women: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and theConvention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Other international conventions ratified by Haiti provide for the principle of non-discrimination against people with disabilities and specifically women with disabilities, for example, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 5) and the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against People with Disabilities (Arts 2, 3). In addition, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women recognizes the particular vulnerability of women with disabilities to violence (Art 9). Yet the National Policy for Equality of Women and Men ignores these important conventions.
Haiti ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on July 23, 2009, and it is part of Haitian Law. Article 6 of the CRPD provides that “States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to
multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Section 4 (c) of the CRPD provides that the State must “take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes.”
We, the signatories of this petition, demand that the State recognizes the situation of exclusion and inequality of women with disabilities, and we demand the revision of this Policy in consultation with advocacy groups for women with disabilities, taking into account their specific concerns. At this time, it is imperative that the Haitian government revises the National Policy for the Equality of Women and Men to include women with disabilities, and take action to allow them the full enjoyment of their rights.