Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, and Digital Democracy was celebrating from Port-au-Prince, where our Haiti Program Manager Emilie Reiser joined one of our local partners, KOFAVIV, for a day-long celebration. The situation for women in Haiti remains challenging, particularly in the displaced person camps where attacks of rape and sexual violence continue against women and girls of all ages. Despite this, we have much to celebrate.
Last September we made a commitment to harnessing technology to address gender-based violence in Haiti, working with legal, medical & psycho-social providers to document, respond to and prevent sexual violence against women. Since that time we have continued our multi-media trainings, worked with women to monitor violence around the elections, and launched a blog - Fanm Pale - Women Speak. Since January, we have focused on supporting our partners to build a digital database to track and respond to incidents of rape & sexual violence in the displaced person camps of Port-au-Prince. In January, we received support from the Channel Foundation, which promotes women’s human rights throughout the world. Channel’s support enabled us to send Emilie to Haiti where she will be living for the year, providing training and technical support to our partner organizations including women’s organizations, IJDH/BAI and the We-Lead Center.
We have also just received a grant from Development Alternatives IncAI/USAID, over the next three months we are piloting a secure, localized database and call center/hotline to respond to gender-based violence. Dd’s software developer Dennis Cahillane has been working with Mark, Emilie & our local staff to establish the database, which has been localized into kreyol. In this work, we have learned so much from our incredible partners, who have suffered from rape and violence in the camps first-hand, and put everything they have on the line to provide services to women and girls at risk of violence. Today I arrived in Haiti with my colleague Abby Goldberg & Digital Democracy Advisor Sean McDonald. We’ll be working with our partners, conducting a strategic planning session and holding workshops on the database and the blog. On Saturday, we’re also participating in BarCamp Port-au-Prince, a gathering of technologists, community groups and international organizations gathering to support Haitians solutions to challenges in Haiti, focusing on unique and innovative ways that technology can be leveraged. This month of March, when women around the world are reflecting on the challenges they face & celebrating victories that have been made in the fight for our human rights, Digital Democracy is so grateful for the support that has made our work possible, and inspired by the women not only in Haiti but throughout the world who are using the tools at their disposal - whether mobile phones, blogs or marching in the streets - to fight for a better future for us all.