December 1, 2014
A first Community Forum took place on November 23 and 24 in Gressier (Haiti) with the theme “Moving towards inclusive citizen participation in Gressier.” This was part of the activities of the Promotion of an Engaged Citizenship program in Haiti carried out in a collaboration between Equitas, GAAR (Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés), CASODI (Centre d’Action pour la Solidarité et le Développement Intégré) and twenty other Haitian human rights defence organizations and institutions. The forum brought together over 100 people representing a cross-section of the community. The purpose of the Forum was to formulate recommendations and develop an action strategy leading to greater civic engagement of young people, women and of marginalized people in the community.
Jean-Robert, a young man with severely reduced mobility, received an invitation to participate in the forum with a mixture of disbelief, excitement and pride. Like many of the forum participants, it was the first time he had personally received an invitation to a public event. The inclusion of usually excluded members of Haitian society, such as youth, women, girls in domestic service, the disabled, illiterate adults, the elderly and children was essential to the success of the forum.
After the customary speeches, the participants were divided into six groups to discuss issues identified as important by the population of Gressier:
- Participation as seen by children
- Youth participation in the transformation of their environment
- The inclusion of the normally excluded and increased participation of marginalized people
- Solutions for the eradication of violence against and harassment of women and girls
- Citizen participation in environmental protection
- The protection and promotion of human rights as a catalyst for active participation.
The proceedings of the Forum and the recommendations for increasing citizen participation will be presented at a National Forum on civic engagement to be held in Hinche on February 28, 2015.