Responding to the Needs of Women and Girls in Haiti

By Christine Cupaiuolo — January 18, 2010

“In Haiti, as is always true in the aftermath of a major disaster, in addition to the urgent need for what we traditionally consider the pillars of immediate aid – food, water, shelter, medical care – there are needs that are specific to women, particularly for pregnant women and mothers with new babies and the need to address the added vulnerability to violence that women face when government infrastructures are dysfunctional,” writes Lucinda Marshall at Feminist Peace Network.

Our Bodies Ourselves has compiled a list of organizations focused on addressing the health needs in Haiti, particularly the needs of women and girls, during and beyond the initial aid effort. Additional background articles and press releases are also included.

These organizations have contacted us directly, or we have received emails from people on their communication lists. Please add groups we may have missed in the comments. Thank you!

  • MADREWorking with its partner in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante, to bring humanitarian aid overland into the country. Teams of healthcare workers from the project have established a functioning supply chain through the Dominican Republic and are currently delivering medical aid to those most in need in Haiti.Read more about MADRE’s model, which ensures that women in communities are integral to designing and carrying out relief efforts.
  • Circle of Health InternationalCOHI’s team of women’s health providers and public health professionals are leaving for Haiti on Jan. 19 to conduct a Rapid Health Assessment, in order to identify and begin addressing women’s most critical health needs. Recent estimates show that there are 37,000 pregnant women among the 3 million people affected by the disaster.COHI defines its target population as women in crisis, specifically partnering with women surviving conflict and disaster, and has a tradition of collaborating with locally based, grassroots organizations when invited into a country context to contribute to women’s health programming.
  • 100% of donations collected will go directly to PROFAMIL’s operations, so they can get their clinics and mobile health units up and working as soon as possible.
  • Partners in HealthPIH has been working in Haiti for 20 years. Its focus is tri-fold: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world.
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without BordersLearn more about their current efforts in Haiti. Donation information is available here.
  • United Nations Population Fund UNFPA’s immediate humanitarian response includes delivering emergency reproductive health kits that contain essential drugs, equipment and supplies to provide life-saving services to pregnant women. UNFPA will also work to ensure that women and girls have access to basic hygiene supplies so that they can live with dignity, even amidst the worst circumstances.
  • Women’s International League for Peace & FreedomProvides an extensive list of non-governmental organizations as well as United Nations and government contacts working in Haiti.
  • V-DayV-Day is initiating a Haiti Rescue Fund immediately to be ready with funds for the V-Day Haiti Sorority Safe House in Port Au Prince that provides shelter to women survivors of violence and their children, as well as psychological, legal and medical support.

For additional reading:

  • Top 10 critical needs facing those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, compiled by the Women’s Refugee Commission
  • Protection of Human Rights Must Accompany Relief Efforts in Haiti” – press release from Amnesty International.“Before the devastating earthquake, Haiti was unable to effectively protect human rights and in particular, women and girls from sexual violence. Unless action is taken now while relief efforts are ongoing, the situation is only likely to deteriorate,” said researcher Gerardo Ducos.

5 responses to “Responding to the Needs of Women and Girls in Haiti”

  1. Thanks for giving a feminist perspective on the tragedy. So many good people have devoted themselves to Haiti. So much more to be done now. Let’s hope we can keep the world’s attention focused …

  2. Please do not forget a terrific group that has been going to Haiti to train midwives. They have a team on the ground now that went in through the D.R. to provide care to pregnant women/delivering women who survived the earthquake.

    Midwives for Haiti

    co Nadene Brunk

    8008 Gardenwood Terrace

    Richmond, VA 23227


  3. Please don’t forget about CARE ( In this time of crisis, CARE is a great organization to support for several reasons:

    1) They were on the ground and in the community in Haiti before the earthquake hit (since 1954), making them one of the few major international relief organizations with ties to the community and the skills/resources to react immediately. CARE’s community-based approach (which also focuses on bringing women into the decision-making process) has been credited for helping relief efforts run smoothly.

    2) The focus of the organization outside of disaster relief is on fighting the root causes of poverty and empowering women/girls. From their website: “We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources.”

    As Haiti begins the long process of reconstructions (which will be measured in years, not weeks), CARE will continue to support women and girls in things like education, health, prevention of violence, economic opportunities, etc.

    If you’re looking for an organization that supports women, please consider giving to CARE. They have decades of disaster relief experience AND focus on working with women:

    Thank you!

  4. As schools open for the new academic year in Haiti, the hope is to bring all boys and girls to school, those who attended before the earthquake struck in January 2010, and those hardest to reach, who will go to school for the first time.

    In the most recent addition to the ‘Beyond School Books’ podcast series, UNICEF Radio podcast moderator Amy Costello spoke with Judith Bruce, Senior Associate and Policy Analyst with the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program, and Michelle Trombley, UNICEF’s Gender-Based Violence Specialist in Haiti, about the situation for adolescent girls in Haiti, both in camps and at school.

    Please visit to listen to the podcast.

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