Ending Gender-Based Violence in Haiti

The Goldin Institute believes in the power of communities coming together to build their own solutions and determine their own futures. Key to our achieving our mission is ensuring that voices and perspectives that are often excluded from the discussion—often women—are heard and included.

From combatting gender-based violence in Haiti to improving microcredit in Bangladesh, women-led, community-based projects are integral to the Goldin Institute's work around the world.

Rape Accountability and Prevention

Institute co-founder Diane Goldin (far right) meeting with partners and associates in Port-au-Prince during the implementation of the RAPP project.The Haiti Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP) is designed to respond to the epidemic of rapes against poor women and girls in Haiti in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. The program includes four closely integrated components: legal advocacy, healthcare, organizing, and public advocacy.

RAPP provides individual victims of sexual assault the legal services they need to obtain justice and compensation, while working with allies in Haiti and abroad to transform the social context that underlies the vulnerability of all poor Haitian women to assault. The Project also aims to deter future rape by punishing the perpetrators and forcing a more effective response by law enforcement and the justice system.

Bangladesh: Restoring Recipient Voices to Improve Microcredit

Participants of the CBOT project with their children during our work in Bangladesh.

The current debate about the efficacy of microfinance is marked by the absence of those who have most at stake in the controversy: loan recipients. The Goldin Institute is working to lift up these voices, most often marginalized women, and restore their perspectives, insights and aspirations to the discussion.

Based on our innovative Community Based Oral Testimony methodology, where villagers in Bangladesh interviewed their neighbors about their experiences as loan recipients, we have helped capture and document these voices and are hard at work to ensure that they are heard in Bangladesh and around the world.

This community driven research raises many questions about the claims of gender empowerment made by microcredit supporters. In the words of Kohinoor Begum, Community Researcher and loan recipient herself:


[quote]Generally, credit is given in the name of the woman. The credit agencies do not grant credit if there is not a woman residing in the household. This is why male members of our homes or husbands sometimes force us to take credit. But, if we take credit, we have to hand it over to our husband or father-in-law who uses it in any way he wishes." [/quote]


Kohinoor went on to testify to the hidden perils that women like herself have experienced due to the misuse and exploitative practices taken by the lending institutions and the men of the communities in the rural villages where we conducted our research:  


[quote]But, the NGO employees come to recover the money from us (women) and we have to face many insults and indignities ... It is the men who spend the money. But, payment of installment is sought from the women. We talk of women before all and talk of empowerment, but women are used within the traps and labyrinths of micro-credit. Women are deprived of their rights. Since women have begun taking micro-credit, oppression on her has multiplied. The evil practice of dowry became manifold. Because of micro-credit, social solidarity in villages is at stake." [/quote]

- Kohinoor Begum, Community Researcher

GI Associate Malya Villard Reports from Philadelphia, PA

Recent interview provides inspiration and plans for future expansion of KOFAVIV

We recently caught up with Global Associate Malya Villard-Appolon, although not in Haiti running KOFAVIV as you would normally expect to see her, but in Philadelphia. Malya's work to reduce all forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls living in camps and communities has made great strides but also put her in a volatile situation. Being the most visible advocate for justice for women who have been attacked has lead to her being forced to seek refuge in Philadelphia until she can safely return to Haiti. Although she is separated from family and forced to temporarily continue her important work from overseas, Malya is as brave and resolved as ever.

We are excited to share this interview with Malya where she speaks passionately and courageously about her work. A quick update of KOFAVIV's work over the past two months reveals that twenty-five trained male agents now work in high risk areas to prevent violence and provide support when women are attacked. In addition, the organization's call center is up and running. As a testament to its importance, within the 15 day period of April 15 to April 30, the center received 153 calls, two from victims of sexual violence, 104 calls for information and 47 calls for advice.

Malya and the KOFAVIV staff will continue, despite constant threats, to ensure the safety of those in their community and a brighter future for Haiti. In the video segment below, Malya speaks about continuing the fight against violence towards women and her plans and hope for the future, despite the personal setbacks suffered.

To find out more on how you can join Malya in the fight to end gender-based violence in Haiti, please follow this link.


Advisory Board Member at U.N. Sponsored Event

Gender Equity Summit Held in New York 

Earlier this month, our Advisory Board member Akif Irfan was in attendance at a United Nations event exploring the issue of gender equity amongst young people in developing countries.

Akif reports that a diverse group focused on gender equality was in attendance. These included individuals from UN-Habitat, academia and representatives of religious organizations. Because the gathering was an open-discussion format and the group size was small by design, Akif said the event provided an open dialogue for addressing issues of gender-based violence, especially against women by focusing on remedies involving the young male population.

Because of the Institute's project work on gender-based violence, especially in Haiti, Akif found natural parallels between our work and the general findings and themes presented in the UN-Habitat sponsored event. Namely, how do we fully capitalize on the role young men can play in actively preventing violence through training and education?

Also in attendance was our former Online Education coordinator, Michael Di Maria. Michael was part of the planning and coordination of this event in his current role with Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), which also co-sponsored the meetings with the Man Up Campaign based in New York City. LCIF and Man Up Campaign are working on a pilot project focused on reversing commonly held stereotypes of young girls and women, while emphasizing a positive and non-violent paragon for masculinity. For an overview of the Foundation's Lions Quest program, a social and emotional learning program that has seen activity in over 95 countries worldwide, click here.

                      lionsQnew                   manup               


Haiti Update: Digital Storytelling Project

The Goldin Institute was excited to expand the Digital Storytelling Project by conducting an intensive week-long workshop in Port au Prince, Haiti in August 2011. In this workshop, Goldin Institute associates teamed with Professor Lisa Dush from DePaul University and her graduate assistant Heather Eidson to train seven local women in Port au Prince to complete their own stories from start to finish and share them with their peers on the final day of the workshop.

A consortium of women's groups in Haiti each selected participants for the workshop who were examples of courageous and thoughtful grassroots leaders tackling gender-based violence issues in Port au Prince. The stories were as unique as each individual participant but shared common themes of strength, perservarance and commitment.

The workshop followed the same principles as those taught at Chicago's DePaul University by Professor Dush. Three primary goals were met during the week in Haiti:

  • To teach the participants how to draft, storyboard, write and produce their own digital story using their photographs and recorded voice.
  • To bring together like-minded women who share an active voice in organizing against gender-based violence in and around the temporary camps that arose in post earthquake Haiti.

  • To familiarize the participants with the basic computer hardware and software used during the workshop so that they could in turn teach the method to others or create new stories of their own.

Digital Storytelling Workshop

Thanks to the generousity of many donors, the Institute was able to leave behind the equipment to produce future digital stories. The equipment included a computer preloaded with the software needed to produce a completed digital story, along with several cameras, a compact digital scanner and the recording equipment to supply the audio tracks for newly created stories.

Workshop attendees expressed an interest in sharing their new experiences and skills with others who might benefit from digital storytelling. We are confident that through our ongoing partnership with the women's groups, our colleagues now have a powerful tool for educating and raising awareness to the issue of gender-based violence.


[quote]The Goldin Institute team showed us how to construct a personal story with photographs–a work that we would not have been able to do without GI. I can say that the week will remain etched in my mind because I felt I learned many things and I am ready to go on to teach other women how to construct their own personal stories ... thank you very much for this work."[/quote]

- Workshop participant Getchine Lima


A special thank you to our partners at KOFAVIV and the IJDH/BAI, whose partnership made the week successful and meaningful. We continue to work with both organizations on the RAPP Project. The Goldin Institute Global Associate based in Port au Prince, Rose Getchine Lima was a participant in the workshop as well and her digital story will become part of her biography and posted at our website.

We were pleased to have a Chicago-based documetarian, Renato Velarde accompany us on the trip.  Renato has started post-production work on the hours of footage he filmed of interviews with many of our associates involved with the ongoing security project (RAPP), as well as those working tirelessly behind the scenes at our partner organization KOFAVIV. Renato also filmed a brief overview of the women's workshop during this time - please continue to visit our site for updates and clips to view of Velarde's work.

We owe a great amount of gratitude to those who supported this project from its planning stages to its successful launch. Together we can continue to make a difference to those still jeopardized by the violence that plagues the makeshift communities that were meant to only be temporary shelters to women and their children. To find out more about how you can become further involved, please follow this link.

[slide] [img path="images/lisa_juliette.jpg"]Professor Lisa Dush (standing left) gives overview of digital storytelling to participants through a translator.[/img] [img path="images/writing_drafts.jpg"]Participants begin work on writing their individual stories or 'scripts' on the first day of the digistory workshop.[/img] [img path="images/workingjoemike.jpg"]Goldin Institute associates Joseph Genslak, Gia Biagi and Michael Di Maria offer instruction to workshop participants.[/img] [img path="images/lisa_standing.jpg"]Program Coordinator Lisa Dush checks in on the progress of workshop attendee.[/img] [img path="images/trav_lisa.jpg"]GI Executive Director Travis Rejman and Professor Dush listen to participant feedback, along with translator.[/img] [img path="images/audiorecording.jpg"]Digital story 'rough cuts' come together with audio tracks being checked for alignment with pictures.[/img] [img path="images/mikejoegia.jpg"]The team from GI and four of the Haitian participants pose for a photo sometime early in the workshop.[/img] [img path="images/joe_olguine.jpg"]GI Associate Joseph Genslak reviews a story in progress.[/img] [img path="images/ren_adjusting.jpg"]Filmmaker Renato Valerde checks the frame of his shot while documenting the workshop proceedings.[/img] [img path="images/renwithgetchine.jpg"]Renato and Travis (far right) interview participant Getchine about her work in curbing gender-based violence.[/img] [img path="images/kids_kofaviv.jpg"]Young women pose for a picture outside the KOFAVIV facilities.[/img] [img path="images/groupfeedback.jpg"]Back at the workshop, comments are exchanged about the value of participating in the digital storytelling workshop.[/img] [img path="images/postcelebration.jpg"]A post-production celebration is shared amongst participants and instructors on the last day of review.[/img] [/slide]


Reconstructing Haiti: Presentation by Malya Villard

We are pleased to share this broadcast of Malya Villard-Appolon's lecture in Chicago on April 22, 2014 at Loyola University.  In this public lecture, Malya spoke about her advocacy work from the courtrooms and IDP camps in Haiti to venues around the world including the UN Commission on Human Rights, the U.S. State Department and the IAHRC. Malya was awarded the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year for her work as co-founder of KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims).  

KOFAVIV is a Haitian grassroots organization that provides social and legal support in an effort to combat sexual violence against women and girls. Based on our partnership with KOFAVIV to fight gender-based violence in Port au Prince after the earthquake, we know first-hand the power and effectiveness of Malya and her team in Haiti.