Human Rights and Gender Equality

Heartland Alliance International (HAI) fully integrates human rights principles and gender analysis into all of its programming. HAI has successfully implemented gender equality programs worldwide, including innovative projects to fight discrimination and harassment, provide mental health care to survivors of gender-based violence, ensure access to HIV/AIDS prevention for sex workers and LGBT communities, and build the capacity of grassroots organizations that are advancing the rights of women and LGBT individuals.


The Need

Around the world, entrenched systems of gender inequality prevent women and LGBT individuals from accessing equal education, employment, and health care. This places them at risk of exclusion, harassment, and violence. Women and LGBT individuals are often exposed to complex layers of discrimination – as women, as survivors of violence, as people living with HIV – with very limited access to competent, compassionate care or justice.

  • Globally, fewer than half of women are employed, and those who work earn only 60 to 75% of men’s wages. Pregnant women and LGBT individuals face even more extreme discrimination at work.
  • One in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, often from an intimate partner. Among sex workers, this number can reach 90%.
  • In 76 countries, same-sex sexual activity is illegal, and in at least 5 countries, same sex sexual acts can be punished by death.

HAI envisions a world where everyone is free from gender-based discrimination, abuse, harassment, and violence and has equal access to health, jobs, and justice regardless of their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. To achieve that vision, HAI supports targeted programming with women and girls while also engaging men and boys to confront harmful gender norms and stereotypes. HAI is dedicated to providing tailored programming that sensitively meets the needs of the most marginalized populations where we work, including survivors of gender-based violence, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

To achieve this vision, HAI:

  • Provides direct services to meet the mental health and psychosocial needs of marginalized women, girls, and LGBT and gender non-conforming individuals
  • Sensitizes law enforcement and local authorities on gender discrimination and abuse
  • Supports public health professionals and other service providers to provide non-discriminatory, trauma-informed services
  • Strengthens grassroots organizations that advance the rights of women and sexual minorities
  • Empowers the most vulnerable women and girls to exercise their full economic rights, free from discrimination and harassment at work
  • Creates safe spaces for women, girls, and marginalized groups to meet, build leadership skills, and develop plans for collective action and social change