The following is excerpted from a statement by INCITE! regarding the ongoing needs in Haiti and is an excellent blueprint of the analysis required to provide support that is responsive to people in need.
Right now, there are many people, organizations, and governmental agencies mobilized to provide immediate aid relief and rescue operations in Haiti. However, there tends to be more readiness to donate supplies and money in the “immediate” time when things are very chaotic and before we know what the conditions are on the ground and have identified the long-term re-development needs as articulated by those most impacted. The long-term vision is critical because, when the dust settles and the big international relief organizations have left, people’s lives will still be devastated, and the need to rebuild will still be there.
We are researching if and how we can develop an intentional political relationship with local women so we can help mobilize the INCITE! network to support just and sustainable development of a sovereign Haiti, both during the interim and the long term recovery process.
As many of us work to figure out appropriate strategies to support the people of Haiti, it’s important to note that the people most vulnerable–namely, women, LGBT folks, people with disabilities, incarcerated people, children, and elders–can experience a slower unfolding of specific crises that are consequences of the original disaster and the social conditions that preceded the disaster.
For example, women experience the most negative consequences of catastrophic events, particularly with regards to higher rates of injury and death, displacement, unemployment, increased incidents of HIV rates, sexual and domestic violence, increased poverty, and the disproportionate responsibility for caring for others. This is especially true for women marginalized by race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, health, ability, age, housing, and legal status. Additionally, in times of crises and environmental emergencies, poor and marginalized women, who are least responsible for the horrific conditions in which they live, are often blamed for their poverty and become subjected to regulatory population control policies through family planning, poverty reduction, and so-called environmental protection programs.
So, given what we have learned from Hurricane Katrina and the disasters of war, occupation, neoliberal economic dominance, and neglect that continue to plague and pathologize many of our families and friends internationally, we would like to use this time to organize an effective and accountable response during this interim phase of the crisis.
Kudos to INCITE! for this nuanced analysis of what a real aid policy should look like.