In the United States, the rights of women compared to the rights of men didnt come as naturally. Its only years later that they were granted rights that were somewhat the same as men. But, this inequality still continues in other other forms and even in other countries such as Haiti. The United States as well as Haiti has garnered amendments to protect the rights of women but great obstacles still stand. Education, poverty and the environment have major effects on maternal mortality. Having a skilled worker at only 37% of live births increases the chances of Haitian mothers death . Per 100,000 births , 630 reported maternal deaths occurred between 2008-2012 (UNICEF). In order to reduce this massive number, the women need to be educated, poverty needs to cease, and the environment needs to rebuild.
The greatest one of all is education. Education is knowledge and knowledge breathes freedom. Knowledge is power. Humans have this innate curiosity that drives them to learn and want to have the best lifestyle possible. When women lack this knowledge they lack the know-how during pregnancy and birth. Very few skilled midwives exist and there needs to be more to assist in the birthing process.For most Haitians, education is the key strategy for alleviating poverty; it is also associated with the reduction of inequalities. Improvements in educational achievement indirectly mitigate the risks of crime and conflict by enhancing opportunities. Increasing investments in education will diminish crime over the longer term (Verner, 2006). Education has become more of a privilege than a right in Haiti (Richardson, 2014). Public health wise, education will lessen poverty and women health issues.
Talking about increasing investments in education is one thing, but actually doing it in a way that allows access to all, is another. Sometimes the women are unable to send their children to school, or are able to afford very few to attend. Poverty has been developing over time due to many factors. Verner and Heinemann from the World Bank Group says that there are three main components to conflict poverty traps: demographic and socioeconomic factors at the individual and household levels, the capacity of the state to provide public goods, including security and the rule of law; and the agendas and strategies of political actors in facing these challenges (2006).
Being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, education is an indicator that poverty is extensive. As much as 62% of the population live on $1.25 a day which equals 66 gourdes in Haiti (UNICEF) From watching a 2011 video from the World Food Programme, $1=40 gourdes and got the basis for one meal but not a complete one ( a bit of rice, 2 tomatoes, peppers, some beans) (Shopping) . This is what a mother would be able to afford for an entire day. Prices of food items have clearly risen since 2011 and continues to fluctuate due to the vendors needing to make a living too. Its not easy to pay for a supplemental amount of food, let alone the privatized education. The women are supposed to take care of all household duties and care for herself and children. If women were able to get a proper job that pays well, they wouldn’t have to make certain sacrifices to survive.
Energy is another commodity thats hard to come by for Haiti. According to USAid, “Only about one-quarter of the population had access to electricity prior to the 2010 earthquake, and that remains the case today. Of these consumers, half were connected to the electrical grid illegally.” Even those who have access to electricity, it not reliable and very costly. Without electricity refrigeration isn’t possible to store food, or get on the internet. Impoverished communities struggle with getting energy but with it many achievements can happen. Take EarthSpark for example, this US based non-profit team spent five years developing their first microgrid in Haiti. It is serving 449 homes and businesses with affordable, reliable electricity. They acknowledge the gender aspect of energy by using the term feminist electrification which means streamlining gender concerns at every step of the process of electrification and recognizing the unique value of women and how it impacts them. Women can cook with electricity and use clean lighting and the organization has employed a few of them. Some women started their own business since the new grid and one in particular own ice cream business with the new electricity. Sanitation is key in the home of women and children in every aspect of living.
Environmentally, because of this lack of electricity and crops, Haitians are starting to rely more on charcoal and unconventional foods. The long history of overworking Haiti’s land, the many natural disasters, and the heavy rains and sometimes the lack of rain wiped out much of the land use to grow crops. Less and 2% of Haiti is forest. In order to make a living, chopping down trees to sell charcoal is the only way (Microgrid, 2016) . Another way women make a living is by growing what they call bonbon terre or mud cookies all day, according to a video that Worldfocusonline published. The cookies has barely any nutritional value, are made from dirt, vegetable shortening, sugar and salt are mixed in. Older women would mix for days as the cookies would serve as their only source of income. In turn, they’d feel sick for a few days before their system gets used to it (Haitians) . Who knows what damage consuming the cookies does to women’s and children’s bodies. Interventions are needed to provide women with not only proper food, but jobs to reduce the maternal morality rate and keep the women healthy.
Women are the backbone of Haitian families and by ensuring the health of them, it ensures the health of Haiti society.
Haitians eat dirt cookies to survive [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3337cj4sJQ
Microgrid Knowledge. (2016, June 21). First Microgrid in Haiti: The Road to Feminist Electrification. Retrieved from https://poweringag.org/news-events/news/first-microgrid-haiti-road-feminist-electrification
Shopping with a dollar in Haiti [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_uWMO11_lI
Unicef. (2010). At a glance: Haiti. Statistics
USAid Haiti. (2018, January). Retrieved from https://www.usaid.gov/haiti/energy
Verner, D., & Heinemann, A. (2006). Social resilience and state fragility in Haiti: Breaking the conflict-poverty trap.