The earthquake caused much suffering, but it also forced the affected people to stand together, to forge new links of solidarity and to re-assess their social development model.
Equitas’ local partners include organizations promoting and defending the rights of women, children, people with disabilities, sexual minorities and peasants.
Their collective work contributes to the emergence of a new form of leadership that promotes greater citizen participation, equality, inclusion and solidarity – equipping and mobilizing communities to create alliances and solve their own issues.
“The idea before was that everything that needed to be done in the community had to be done by the authorities or the government. Today, in the areas where we have implemented the Citizen Engagement Program, we have noticed changes in terms of people’s responsibility and action in their community.”
— Patrick Camille, Equitas coach and partner in Haiti.
What we do
Addressing these challenges through human rights education, the Citizenship Engagement Program is the contribution of Haitian human rights grassroots organizations to the reconstruction of Haiti. It aims to:
- equip members of diverse sectors with human rights knowledge, skills and tools to analyze community development issues, to explore the root causes of problems and put into place practical actions for solving local issues and increasing participation, inclusion and solidarity in their communities;
- strengthen inclusive practices in Haitian communities for civil society, community members and decision-makers to work collaboratively and promote a culture of dialogue and the reduction of social violence;
- enhance the capacity of marginalized citizens—including vulnerable women, youth, the poor, disabled, LGBTQI people and excluded groups in rural and urban Haiti— to better mobilize and organize collectively around issues of economic, social and cultural exclusion within their own communities, and eventually, at the national level;
- disseminate good practices, lessons learned, research findings and capacity-building tools on a regional and national level through trainings, community actions, forums and policy dialogues.
Highlights of our work in Haiti:
- The toolkit Je m’engage, ensemble nous bâtissons developed with Equitas’ partners in Haiti is central to providing communities the tools they need to develop actions local citizens can implement themselves without relying upon the involvement of outside institutions.
Examples of Community Action Projets by local citizens:
— cholera cases reduced through community health programs, cleaning water sources and building latrines.
— community campaigns to eliminate violence against women and girls, and strategies to increase their safety.
— radio stations collaborating with LGBTQI groups to broadcast educational programs on the rights of the LGBTQI community.
- A successful policy dialogue to promote non-discrimination, equality and the respect of human rights with early 70 participants representing various government institutions and ministries, human rights defenders, and community representatives (May 2016).
- More women and youth elected to positions of leadership in local organizations, like Esmeralda Pierre-Jérôme who decided to run for the office of mayor of La Victoire. Her leadership inspired community organizations to work together to encourage women— generally absent from Haitian institutions— to participate more actively in the political life of La Victoire. Esmeralda is now mayor, and is committed to the promotion of human rights and the participation of women in her community.
Equitas works in Haiti with the collective Partners for Engaged Citizenship (Partenaires de la citoyenneté engagée).
The Citizen Engagement Program is part of Strengthening Human Rights Education Globally, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, with the financial support of the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie du Québec, of AJWS – American Jewish World Service, of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Office du haut-commissariat aux droits de l’homme en Haïti.