Violence against women is widespread in El Salvador and it has increased further during the Covid-19 pandemic. Solidar Suisse champions the protection and participation of women in 32 rural communities in Chalatenango in order to help women exercise their rights.
One of the highest violence rates in the world
Women in El Salvador are consistently subjected to violence and have little prospect of exercising their rights, in part due to the legacy of the civil war and the culture of machismo.
Seven in ten women experience sexual or physical violence during their life. The country has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world: every 24 hours a woman is murdered by a man. In addition, a total ban on abortion – including in cases where the women’s life is in danger – results in many women dying following abortions carried out by unqualified practitioners. Women who suffer miscarriages are sentenced to 30 years in prison on the alleged grounds of killing an unborn life. Despite the laws that do exist, women do not enjoy equal opportunities – women have poorer access to education and, as a result, they have poorer prospects in the labour market and earn less than men.
Our partner organisations have promoted gender policies in a range of communities in Chalatenango. These policies improve access to healthcare, education and employment. The policies support victims of violence and women in becoming involved in politics, for example, through a degree course with training in the fields of public policy, conflict resolution and participation.
Gladis Menjívar is an example of one woman who has undertaken a course, after which she applied for a seat on the community council. Today she is deputy mayor.
«It is difficult to assert yourself in a male-dominated community council, but I have achieved a great deal that I previously would not have dared to fight for.»
Emergency Hotline and Education
Teenage pregnancies and femicides increased sharply during the Corona Lockdown. Due to militarily enforced curfews and the suspension of public transport, women affected by violence could hardly flee and did not dare to report the perpetrators.
Solidar partner organisations worked with the authorities to launch a campaign that reached 1.3 million people via social networks, radios and television. Our partner organisations were able to draw on structures they had built up over many years: for example, gender equality offices that also serve as contact points for victims of violence. During the pandemic, activities to prevent violence and teenage pregnancies, such as education on gender equality and sexual self-determination by young people for young people, were made more difficult.
With your donation you are supporting the fight for women’s rights and against violence in El Salvador.