This Gender and Inequality Awareness Month, Tania Grande, Programme Officer in El Salvador, reports on our partner ORMUSA and how they are helping to improve the lives of women.
From January to August 2018, a shocking 274 women were murdered in El Salvador. This is a direct consequence of the inequalities that continue to prevail in a patriarchal system that deprives women of their rights.*
Despite the signing of the Peace Accords more than 25 years ago, a culture of violence remains unchanged, particularly against women and girls.
It was not until 1950 that women were declared equal by law. As a result, women are still struggling for equal political representation and economic equality, against a culture of rape and lack of autonomy.**
To reveal this culture of violence and change the structures that sustain it, the Association of Women for Peace (ORMUSA), a feminist organisation with more than 30 years of experience, and a Christian Aid partner, is committed to working with key governmental institutions to improve the situation for women.
Advocating for change
A milestone in the struggle for women´s rights in the country was the approval of the Special Comprehensive Law of Violence Against Women in 2010, although its measures are not fully implemented yet. ORMUSA played a key part in drafting the proposal and was a leader in advocating for the change in the law which is now being considered.
Through ORMUSA´s advocacy, working alongside other women's organisations, three specialised courts for Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases have been established, and the opening of 33 Women´s Units at police stations around the country.
Their efforts, funded through our projects, have also ensured the design of protocols to identify femicides. The Prosecutor´s Office has secured more dedicated funds and at least 40 prosecutors have been trained on national and international laws concerning women.
Helping women to gain power
Recently, I had the had the opportunity to witness first-hand how ORMUSA are helping women to gain power. I was deeply impressed by the sense of value and recognition that they instill in the women they support.
In San Pedro Masahuat, in the central region of El Salvador, more than 675 women are now attending sexual health groups supported by ORMUSA and the Health Ministry. They meet regularly and discuss preventative methods for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This project has supported more than 300,000 women in excluded communities across El Salvador.
A local champion
Meeting with Claudia Rodas I found out more about how the local women’s organisation ASOMUSA (Women's Association of San Pedro) that she helped establish in San Pedro Masahuat, is supported by ORMUSA.
It has allowed women to know their rights and through them include the perspective of women in many areas of social life like municipal matters, health and security services.
Claudia used to be very shy to express her opinions, but now she enjoys speaking in public and empowering other women. She dreams that more women understand their rights, and are able to leave abusive husbands. Her confidence has grown to such an extent, that she now has a seat on the Municipal Council.
It is hard to witness violence against women and not always being able to solve the situation because sometimes the men even threaten you for helping a victim.
- Claudia Rodas.
Local and national impact
ORMUSA works at both a local and national level. A historic result is their contribution towards the development of a national system of data and statistics of violence against women. This information can now inform decision makers, and the public, on the severity of the situation based on up-to-date evidence.
At an institutional level, ORMUSA is also supporting the Ministry of Justice and Security in drafting and implementing an internal Policy for Equality of Women. An expected impact of this work would be better addressing the cases of women convicted for abortion that have received international attention recently.
Working with ORMUSA we are seeing the struggles that women face, and how they are helping them to make changes through demanding public policies on violence against women, and for the protection of sexual and reproductive rights.
For more information visit our work in El Salvador
* ORMUSA´s online Observatory of Violence against Women: http://observatoriodeviolencia.ormusa.org/
** In the 2018 legislative and municipal elections, only 31% of elected parliamentarians were women and 10% were mayors