Haiti: Accessibility and women’s participation for better elections

According to Handicap International as many as 4.000 people have had limbs amputated as a result of the Jan. 12 earthquake. Photo Marco Dormino / MINUSTAH

Ketizia Brunard lost an arm in the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010. Determined to fully exercise her civil and political rights, the 26-year-old is looking forward to voting in the next legislative elections. “I hope that people with reduced mobility can have a say in electing the next leaders of this country,” said Ketizia, who is the Secretary of the National Associative Network for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities.

During a BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) training course, organized with the support of the UNDP and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Ketizia encouraged the authorities to launch a census of persons with reduced mobility to give them the opportunity to participate in the electoral process.

“To facilitate the participation of persons with reduced mobility, leaders could try introducing electronic voting or tele-voting, or even set up special offices in each area,” she said.

Highlights

  • The 2-year project funded by the Governments of Haiti, Canada, the United States and the European Union aims to support fair, free and transparent elections.
  • Women make up only 4% of the members of parliament in Haiti.
  • The 2015 elections will require the registration of 6 million voters and the purchase of 42 million ballot papers.

“How can a blind person be expected to participate independently in the electoral process if ballot papers in Braille are not provided?” said Emmanuel Cossy, Executive Director of a Haitian organization supporting disadvantaged and disabled people.

The BRIDGE trainings are part of the UNDP support for the electoral process, which is funded by the Governments of Haiti, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and the United States.
The aim is to increase the capacity of public institutions involved in the electoral process, the justice system, the prison system, planning and administrative reform.

In 2014, more than 40 electoral officials took the opportunity to increase their knowledge of electoral administration, to delve deeper into issues concerning gender and the accessibility of the political and electoral process for people with disabilities and to reflect on sustainable solutions for fair, free and transparent elections.

“Through such training, the UNDP is committed to working with national authorities to ensure electoral administration officials have all the skills they need to organize elections that inspire confidence in all those involved,” said Sophie de Caen, UNDP’s Senior Country Director in Haiti.

BRIDGE training courses will continue to run in 2015 and will concentrate on the participation of young people, the diaspora and above all women.

Although women make up more than 52% of the Haitian population, they are still frequently underrepresented in social, political and economic affairs. The Haitian Parliament only has five female deputies, which is 4% of its members, placing the country 138th in the world according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

More than 100 people from various political movements participated in the first “Haitian Women in Politics: Strategies for Winning” forum, organized by UNDP, IFES and UN Women to consider the benefits of the political engagement of women during elections. One popular strategy – to reduce political party membership fees for women – will also be an important motivating factor for the parties.

During the 2011 legislative and presidential elections, UNDP provided critical support to the Electoral Council in drawing up electoral lists for 4.7 million voters. It also encouraged those living in displaced persons’ camps to participate in the elections, provided legal training to resolve election disputes and supplied information to the electorate through a text messaging system, a call centre and a website.

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