PROGRAMS & THEMES: Gender, IFIs and Gender-Based Violence

Case Study: Haiti

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Even before the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010, gender based violence (GBV) was rife throughout the country. Twenty-six percent of all women and girls over the age of 15 experienced GBV. In addition to traditional norms that condoned men's right to control and beat their female partners, and the perception of violence as an acceptable method of conflict resolution, ongoing civil conflict helped fuel "widespread levels of sexual violence."

Conditions since the earthquake, especially the precarious safety situation in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), have exacerbated GBV against women and girls. A report by Amnesty International found that "dismal camp conditions," including overcrowding, inadequate shelter and lighting, and a lack of secure toilets and bathing facilities "render women and girls particularly vulnerable" and make it easy for assailants to strike. GBV survivors report having limited access to medical care and legal services, and fear stigma and retaliation if they dare to report GBV to the police.

Since the earthquake, Gender Action has monitored all World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved post-earthquake investments in Haiti, which the banks claim are worth over US$1 billion as of early 2012. Gender Action also leads advocacy efforts to pressure the World Bank and IDB to respond to escalating levels of GBV. We salute the World Bank for finally responding to Gender Action's advocacy in 2011 by approving one small project that directly addresses GBV in Haiti. This was a result of Gender Action sending letters to members of the US Congress and President Obama on the need for IFIs to respond to GBV in their post-earthquake investments, since the United States is the largest and most influential IFI shareholder. Gender Action was also a major contributor to the Haiti Gender Shadow Report, a reply to the Haitian government's gender-blind Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, which called upon IFIs to "implement and enforce gender equity and anti-discrimination laws, in particularly against sexual violence, sexual harassment and human trafficking."

In order to assess the extent to which the World Bank and IDB address GBV in Haiti, this case study applies Gender Action's Essential Gender Analysis Checklist to investments that aim to enhance shelter, sanitation and electricity, which have significant implications for Haiti's GBV epidemic. This case study also highlights an IDB-funded survey of GBV in Haiti, which took place before the earthquake. Although Gender Action applauds the World Bank's recent GBV investment, our analysis demonstrates that neither the World Bank nor the IDB adequately address GBV within other critical post-earthquake investments. Sadly, this lack of attention to GBV is hardly surprising: according to Interaction, an alliance of international non-governmental organizations, "the humanitarian community continues to see women's protection as a second-tier concern in crises, particularly natural disasters, and is slow to address GBV at the onset of an emergency." This case study underscores the urgent need for the World Bank and IDB to strengthen their own gender policies and explicitly address GBV across all sectors.

© 2011 Gender Action, All Rights Reserved

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