Helping Women and Girls in Haiti Live Healthier Lives

“Partnership for a Better Haiti,” a program supported by AmeriCares, focuses on addressing the health needs of young women and adolescent girls through prevention and support activities.

As AmeriCares works to strengthen health care in post-earthquake Haiti, there is a special emphasis on programs that help women and children. One such program, “Partnership for a Better Haiti,” established by partner Haitian Health Foundation (HHF), focuses on addressing the health needs of young women and adolescent girls through prevention and support activities.

Female health and education in Haiti is an issue complicated by cultural boundaries, poverty and inequality, as well as natural disasters.  Largely unaware of their rights and opportunities, deprived of schooling, and exposed to violence and unsafe living conditions, adolescent girls and women face profound health risks. In addition, health services for mothers and children are often out of reach, resulting in high rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Many women do not have rights to what we would consider basic access to resources in health Julie Hard, AmeriCares Haiti Country Director.

The goal of “Partnership for a Better Haiti” is to improve the mental, social and physical health of adolescent girls and women through prevention and support programs. Initiatives are intended to support and promote positive change in individuals and communities. Programming includes sexuality seminars, “street law” activities, reproductive rights forums and soccer matches in rural villages. Women also have access to the services of HHF nurse-midwives, health workers and the maternal emergency transportation system. 

“For many young women in Haiti, there are not very many options for meaningful engagement,” Hard said. “This program promotes healthy living, knowledge of girls’ rights and offers alternatives to activities that can increase their risk of early pregnancy, diseases and other abuses.”

The sustainability of the program lies in the roles of the girls and women who are reached. The goal is for participants to become ambassadors for the rest of the community.

“Changing the beliefs of a person can have lasting impacts, particularly if the belief is in themselves and if they realize that they can be an agent of change for their community,” Hard said. “This is our hope for this project.”

“Partnership for a Better Haiti” gives communities the opportunity to see young women in different roles. The impact of the program will be measured through indicators such as decreases in teenage pregnancies, reduced incidence of infections and mortality rates, Hard said. “In short, the key to a stronger and healthier community ensures that women are aware of their rights.”

Statistics show that programs focused specifically on girls have led to positive results not only for the individual girls, but also for their families and communities, as empowered girls and women end up contributing to the health, education and well-being of their society.