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Empowering Adolescent Girls in Haiti (Continued)

  • September 21, 2010

The Haiti Adolescent Girls Network has made a commitment to helping empower young women across Haiti.

The Haiti Adolescent Girls Network is expected to reach over 1,000 girls, ages 10 to 18, in the coming months with the creation of at least 20 program sites for girls groups in earthquake-affected communities all across the country. Even before the earthquake, factors including inequality, cultural norms and poverty continually put young Haitian women at risk, especially for sexual violence.

Participants will attend weekly meetings facilitated by female mentors. These “safe spaces” offer girls training, stability and resources, as well as a place to turn in times of trouble.

A coordinator working out of the AmeriCares Haiti office in Port-au-Prince will oversee the programs and activities of more than a dozen participating organizations.

The Network is focusing its attention on some of the most vulnerable groups including:

  • Pregnant girls and girls with babies
  • Disabled girls
  • Girls bearing the heavy risks of puberty, roughly ages 10-14 years old living with one or no parent
  • Girls up to age 18, not presently attending school, especially those living apart from parents
  • Girls ages 10-18 living in camps-particularly those camps with the highest rates of violence
  • Girl who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse

Each participant will receive a “Dignity and Action Kit” from AmeriCares that contains personal hygiene products and safety items, as well as information and emergency resources. Many of the products have been donated and some will be purchased in Haiti to support the local economy. The kits will be assembled in Haiti by older girls who will receive a stipend for their work. They will have an opportunity to open bank accounts, laying the foundation for savings and economic independence.

While many charitable organizations focused their relief efforts on providing aid for babies, young children and expectant mothers after the earthquake, adolescent girls were not always included in relief efforts. With this innovative program, AmeriCares and participating organizations are providing an invaluable resource for this vulnerable, yet dynamic, population.

Why Help Girls?

Investing in programs and resources that focus specifically on girls has proven to lead to a better future for individual girls as well as their families and communities. Statistics show that special attention to the areas of education, health and medicine and financial literacy help empower girls to contribute to society.

  • Every year of primary schooling increases a girl’s individual earning power by 10 to 20 percent, and every year of secondary school increases her earning power by 15 to 25 percent
  • Women and girls invest 90 percent of their income into their families
  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children
  • Educated girls grow into educated women, who – research shows – have healthier babies and are more likely to educate their children

AmeriCares Work In Haiti

Months after the devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, families still mourn 230,000 victims of the disaster. Squalid tent cities in and around Port-au-Prince are still home to one million men, women and children. Others families have fled quake-damaged cities altogether. Over 300,000 people were injured during disaster; many lost limbs, others sustained serious injuries from which they will never recover. Medicines and supplies were ruined in the disaster; what remained was quickly depleted by throngs of earthquake survivors.

In response, AmeriCares has committed $50 million in aid to help rebuild Haiti’s heath care system in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake. Our relief efforts include sending medicines and medical supplies and supporting health care facilities serving the people of Haiti.

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