An "Egalitech" in Haiti : online library and tools for gender equality

An "Egalitech" in Haiti : online library and tools for gender equality

Chicago, United StatesPort-au-Prince, Cape Haitian, Jacmel, Leogane, Ti Goave, Haiti
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

More than a cyber center, WE-LEAD is a place where women and girls learn how to use computers and social media to exchange knowledge and engage in lively debates on women’s rights.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The reconstruction in Haiti has been dominated by men due to the lack of gender criteria in the awarding of funding for reconstruction projects. Not only does this prevent women’s needs from becoming a priority in the process, but gender blind development inevitably perpetuates gender inequities. Tremendous advocacy efforts are vital to promoting women's leadership in decision making processes in order to ensure fair participation in job creation and to protect women's rights. Today, the media ignores women's issues and the previously vibrant women's movement remains at a loss of critical human and material resources. With strength, networking tools, gender expertise, and visibility, the women’s movement will overcome barriers that exclude women from the benefits of future development.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our resource center in Port-au-Prince - equipped with 12 computer stations and broadband Internet - offers trainings in computer basics to women and girls and more advanced ICT/social media trainings to organizations. More than a cyber center, WE-LEAD is also a place where women exchange and learn about their rights through various sources such as books, Facebook, feminist blogs, lively debates, and radio programs. We have rallied a network of organizations around us: some promoting women’s equality within economic development, some fighting for women in politics, and others defending LGBT individuals. New blogs are created each month, a newspaper is in the works, and the Center’s Facebook page has become a hub for female leaders to exhibit their sense of self-worth. Currently, we are in the process of organizing all the information, services, and tools we produce to create an e-learning platform where a wider community of women and men can participate in our collective expertise.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The “EQUIlibrary platform”, or EGALITHEQUE (in French), will display all the information, tools, media, and literature that has been collected and produced on gender equality and women’s rights in Haiti in addition to providing links to other useful international resources. - The platform will appear on the Center’s 12 computer homepages and will link visitors to our services in an interactive way - they can comment, evaluate, and subscribe to our popular feminist debates, library and book clubs, individual project support services, and training courses in computers, social media, and project design. - In cities such as Ti Goave or Jacmel, where no specialized library exists, members of our sister organizations will be able to access the platform. Our training modules and essential documents will be available for download to assist in making cases on women’s rights and monitoring gender inequities. Members can also read the latest news and chat with sisters in the forum. - NGOs in Leogane will be able to download useful documents on how to run gender analyses prior to implementing a project and learn about gender inequities within a specific region. - Whether a politician or an activist, a donor or a consultant, the platform will provide awareness of the resources, expertise, and services available. Anybody interested in supporting us will be able to request our expertise, upload their own useful references and tools, connect with our network, and chat with us about equality! We have a few of our resource on line here : http://weleadhaiti.tumblr.com/
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The Center is the only incubator of its kind in Haiti, mixing technology and gender expertise to build collective advocacy for women’s rights. We believe that ICT expertise will position women as leaders in a growing social media market by providing power and competitive skills to women who have traditionally been invisible and unheard. Our resources (books, pamphlets, training manuals, and tool kits) are very valuable as similar collections that existed in Haiti were destroyed in 2010. We are adapting to an existing pilot, promoted by a French organization, to our Haitian reality and needs. An interactive learning platform with an impressive review of gender focused literature, they agreed to help with technical assistance (cf http://www.centre-hubertine-auclert.fr/les-ressources).
Team

Founding Story

Our “Aha!” moment was after we decided not to focus on “selecting” which women’s organization we should strengthen or how to better select our users and control their use of social media - it was after we decided we should consider Facebook as a force rather than a threat, generational and social diversity as beneficial, and start to combine women’s rights and computer literacy in a systematic way. It was the moment we launched our “popular education club” for young computer addicts, letting beneficiaries run the agenda to adapt to their diverse ideas and needs. Then everything came into place.
About You
Organization:
Heartland Alliance / WE-LEAD program
About You
First Name

Marie

Last Name

de Cenival

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Heartland Alliance / WE-LEAD program

Organization Country

, IL, Chicago, Cook County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX, Port-au-Prince, Cape Haitian, Jacmel, Leogane, Ti Goave

Age of Innovator

Over 34

Gender of Innovator

Female

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

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Innovation
How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Equity.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to education/training, Access to economic opportunity, Policy change/advocacy.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since February 2011 1,500 women have visited our center an average of 4.3 times (!). In the words of a young beneficiary: “I am 15 years old and in 9th grade. Before, I used to stay home a lot. I believed that men should impose laws and the girls had to abandon their dreams for their husband. I saw society just as it was described to me - that I had to be submissive, weak, and a housewife. I kept saying things that I realized, growing up through the We-LEAD center, were nonsense. (…) Now, my attendance to WE-LEAD amounts to an average of 7 days out of 10. I research, I read, I participate in the club, sometimes I play. I surf the internet, I attend the English classes, etc. Today, thanks to We-Lead, I think differently and I do it my own way. I can defend my position in a number of debates. I am a woman with a future and I will strive to achieve my goals despite all the pitfalls in society that are made to drive me away from them.” More here: http://www.espacewelead.blogspot.com/.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

The WE-LEAD Center in Port-au-Prince will become Haitian and independent and will expand tp offer more structured and sustainable services to a wider audience, especially by the new internet platform. By that time, several more international NGOs will have integrated gender in their programming, thanks to Haitian expertise and advocacy, and women’s issues will move up on the national agenda. Our approach (women’s empowerment through information technology) will hopefully be replicated in public administrations and our innovative “EQUIlibrary” tool will be promoted throughout a large network of women’s organizations and on university campuses. We also hope to open a new center in the Northern industrial park to assist women in protecting their rights as workers and in building collectives.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Continued WE-LEAD presence is vital at this moment in Haiti’s history, as it works to empower women and impose a culture of gender equality into the development and rebuilding of the country. However, as women’s organizations and individual initiatives take shape, requests for gender expertise and technical support increase, and donor funding diminishes, the WE-LEAD Resource Center will have to remain sustainable while adapting to keep up with demands for support. We need to increase our expertise, position ourselves internationally as an innovative and professional women's media outlet, diversify our funding source, and strengthen our partner's capcity.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

WE-LEAD is visible online as a Haitian center for women's empowerment through ICT, with unique gender expertise.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Register the WE-LEAD center as a Haitian NGO (on-going process) and reach staff autonomy.

Task 2

Formalize partnership with the Centre Hubertine Auclerc and send our librarian to an internship in Paris.

Task 3

Establish the online women’s library / learning platform (Egaliteque) to promote resources and services interactively.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Increased long term sustainability: diversity of funding sources, integration in the public system.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Facilitating internships, fellowship programs, and other types of in-kind donations to the program

Task 2

Two trips abroad for the Haitian staff to promote the WE-LEAD Center

Task 3

Duplication of the approach in government run facilities starting with the Ministry of Women departmental offices.

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

In collaboration with the Ministry of Women, we train numerous women's organizations in cities hit the hardest by the earthquake, such as SOFA, Fanm Deside, FACSDIS, and Espoir des Femmes, in ICT, gender issues, the reconstruction, and women's rights. We additionally work with POHDH to lobby members of parliament, support KOFAVIV in their work in IDP camps, fund MADRE to advocate against gender based violence, and collaborate with Digital Democracy to build our staff's capacity and install frontline SMS for outreach. We work every day with more than 30 different women’s organizations.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

The Center will open a merchandise shop and sell its “women’s leadership” brand on T-shirts, badges etc. Any technical, design, time, and marketing advice is welcome. We will offer computer/social media training to the public at a cost during vacation. Additional workforce is welcome. Computers, ICT outlets, and books on human rights and women's issues (in French) are also needed as we expand!