Big Win for the Fight for Women’s Rights in Haiti

IJDH Senior Staff Attorney Sasha Filippova presenting at the WGDAWG civil society consultation. To her left, Pascale Solages, co-director of Nègès Mawon; Ilona Alexander, Secretary of the WGDAWG; and WGDAWG members Claudia Flores, Haina Lu, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck (Chair), and Laura Nyirinkindi

On May 6, the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls (WGDAWG) jointly with ten other UN human rights mandate holders, issued a significant press release expressing grave concern over widespread violations of the rights of women and girls in Haiti, including lack of access to basic services and unprecedented levels of violence. The release went beyond just condemning gang violence: it denounced Haitian authorities for failing to protect women from rampant abuses and being “actively complicit in gang activities.” IJDH had encouraged the WGDAWG to focus on the Haitian government’s responsibility to reflect the demands of its Haitian grassroots collaborators and to ensure that the Working Group’s pressure is applied in a way that will make concrete improvements to safety for women and girls in Haiti. The WGDAWG release likewise echoes longstanding IJDH insistence that establishing sustainable security in Haiti requires restoring democracy through an equitable process that includes women’s leadership and participation. 

IJDH has a strong history of engagement with WGDAWG, including leading a submission in response to the group’s call for information. IJDH maintained close communication with the Working Group after its submission, urging Haiti-specific action. A week prior to the publication of WGDAWG’s press release, IJDH participated in a meeting between civil society and the WGDAWG, inviting long-standing partners, including Nègès Mawon. We used the meeting as an opportunity to continue to advocate for the empowerment and protection of Haitian women and girls. These joint advocacy efforts played an important role in the initiation of the press release.