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In Haiti, women face great economic oppression and are 20% more likely to be unemployed than men due to employer discrimination (3). Even when women are employed, they earn on average less than half of what men do (5). Prior to the devastating earthquake in 2008, 60% of female headed households were living in extreme poverty and women were and continue to be underrepresented in the formal sector leading to financial insecurity (5).


The adolescent birth rate in Haiti is high at 54.8 per 1,000 births however this statistic (taken from 2015) shows a decrease, as in 2010, the rate was 66.1 (1). Women often face barriers to receiving support and treatment for their sexual and reproductive health and in 2017, only 45.4% of women had their need for family planning met (1). Since 2000, the maternal mortality rate has remained consistent and in 2017, was recorded as being 480 per 100,000 live births (2). Whereas personal hygiene products had previously been inaccessible to 40% of the population, Glory Industries now provides Haitian households with tissue paper at a low cost (4).

Violence against women

An estimated one in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced some form of gender-based violence (3). After the earthquake in 2008, gender-based violence rose greatly as women were targeted in IDP camps and sexual violence became an even more significant issue (5). For many young girls, school is one of the most common locations in which they are subjected to sexual abuse (3) and prior to 2005, there were no laws in place which recognised rape and domestic violence as punishable offences (3). The prevalence of IPV victimisation was 32.5% with the majority reporting emotional (24.7%) followed by physical (16.8%) and sexual (10.5%) violence.[2] Prevalence of domestic violence against women (lifetime) 21%.[3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.


Literacy rates in Haiti are low at 61-64% for men and just 57% for women (6). Most Haitian schools use a French model of education and tests are conducted in French despite the fact that Creole is many children’s first language; less than 22% of primary school children therefore pass the exam required to enter secondary school (6). Primary school attendance has however increased and in 2012, 77.7% of girls were attending primary school. For both girls and boys of primary school age, an estimated 90% are in attendance (6). Repeating grades is common and around 53% of students drop out before completing primary school (6). One survey found that 13.1% of the girls between aged 10 and 14 who were not enrolled in school were among the estimated 150,000-500,000 children who live with non-relatives as unpaid domestic servants (6).

Political representation of women

As of February 2021, there were no women serving in parliament (1) and it is therefore not surprising that Haiti ranks at 187th position in terms of women’s political representation (5). Whilst in 2012, a constitutional amendment was made in order to ensure that 30% of positions must be held by women, the implementation of this is lacking (5). Only 11.5% of the judiciary is made up of women (5)

Current law and policy

A new section of the Haitian Penal Code entitled Sexual Aggressions, the amended Article 278, provides that anyone who commits rape or is responsible for any other type of sexual aggression shall be punished with ten years of forced labour. Furthermore, Article 280 now states that in the event that the crime is committed against a child under the age of fifteen, the perpetrator shall be punished with fifteen years of forced labour. Although the 2005 legislation represents a positive development in deterring gender-based violence, the effective adjudication of rape cases and judicial redress for victims have failed to keep pace with expectations.

Public spending - 7.5% of GDP on violence containment (excluding individuals’ expenditures and indirect costs such as lost wages resulting from lower productivity or absenteeism)



Further Reading

[1] Women in the Aftermath of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake, Dr B.F. Duramy.



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