Training Trainers in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education | Part 1

Orientations were held this month for the 60 Bajo Lempa educators and health promoters who will participate in a training and research project offered by an interdisciplinary team of family planning professionals, implementation and monitoring experts from the University of New Mexico. The process began last year when the university team and VOICES collaborated with Salvadoran rural communities to develop a sexual and reproductive health curriculum and training program based on the ECHO model. The Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes (ECHO), is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that promotes a better heath system that is efficient, low-cost, scalable and sustainable. Both parties will connect via videoconferencing.

DSC_1720The ECHO model is based on three educational theories:

  • Social Cognition: affirms that people should believe that there is a benefit in learning a new behavior and they should develop confidence in their ability to perform the behavior.
  • Located Learning: the importance of providing experience, modeled by the student, to develop new skills, while participating in their interests and simplifying tasks.
  • Community Practice: emphasizes learning through continued participation in a collaborative community of peer students and expert individuals.

The absence of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education has profound consequences that lead to high rates of teenage pregnancy, poverty, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and suicide. More than 46% of Salvadoran women have been pregnant by the age of 20, and 40% of pregnancies of women aged 15 to 24 years are involuntary. Adolescent mothers reach lower levels of education and experience high rates of poverty, while their babies are at increased risk of low birth weight, developmental delays, malnutrition and death. These problems are exacerbated in rural areas where access to health resources is low and poverty is common.

In 2012, the Ministry of Health, recognizing a deficiency, prioritized education in Sexual and Reproductive Health. Unfortunately, the curriculum currently being used in schools is limited and inaccurate. only 5.5% of teachers have been trained in it and many religious groups have blocked it from disseminating it effectively.


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ECHO project goals:

  • Establish the effectiveness of delivering a sexual and reproductive health curriculum.
  • Successfully incorporate the curriculum into Bajo Lempa schools reaching nearly 3,000 students.
  • Generate recognition and understanding of the model among civil society and national agencies.

VOICES is proud to partner with the university of New Mexico on this important project.
Follow us here to receive updates about the progress.

romero, Uncategorized

Happy 101st Birthday Oscar Romero!

“We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”
Oscar Romero




Today we join our Salvadoran family in the commemoration of Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s 101st birthday. May the messages of peace and love that he imparted continue to live on in the hearts and minds of all who love justice.



Versión Español

0604062El Salvador faces a profound water crisis. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), it is the only country in the Central American region dangerously close to experiencing water stress and with 1,700 cubic meters per capita per year, it has the lowest water availability per inhabitant of all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, as argued by ECLAC, El Salvador already experiences water stress because the conditions of access to water are precarious. The scarcity of water caused by deforestation and by the pollution of rivers and other surface sources, adds to an ethical problem of unfair management and distribution. Even in places where apparently there is enough water, the poor always have difficulty accessing it; while the owners of golf courses, bottling companies, sugarcane producers, and other private interests use all the water they want, not caring how they affect local communities.

Due to this injustice, a group of Salvadoran civil society organizations submitted a proposal called The General Water Law to the Legislative Assembly in March 2006. With the aim of generating a change in the vision and behavior of state institutions and civil society with respect to compliance with the human right to water, the law was based on principles such as: civic participation, full access, focus on the basin, sustainability and decentralization.

Over the following years, updated proposals were presented in Parliament, as well as different direct actions organized by the people who demanded that the General Water Law to be promulgated. However, due to strong tensions between the right-wing parties and the FMLN, a consensus has never been reached. On June 14, 2017 the four major right-wing parties presented a new draft bill designed to suit the interests of the large private companies called The Integral Water Law.

This new proposal generated a strong rejection from the general public and the civil society organizations, who which for more than a decade have been fighting for water to be recognized as a human right in El Salvador. Many people have expressed their concerns, questioned intentions and denounced the legislative right’s decision to hand over the country’s water resources to the private sector.

The March 4, 2018 midterm election results rewrote the political map in the Legislative Assembly, paving the way for the right to advance with its 2017 proposal and on June 5, paradoxically within the framework of the celebration of World Environment Day, the legislative commission responsible for the environmental issue, agreed to begin discussing the Integral Water Law, in sense ignoring all other draft laws presented. In response, the FMLN wrote in its twitter account: “This day, taking advantage of its majority in the Committee on Environment and Climate Change, the right takes steps towards the privatization of water resources.”

For their part, organizations and social movements are on alert and strong mobilizations are being prepared for the coming days. José Santos Guevara, coordinator of the Movement of Victims and Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC) stated: “We reject any attempt to privatize water, and we will fight in the streets to prevent water from becoming a commodity, our struggle is for it to be a common good and its access a basic human right.”


El Salvador enfrenta una profunda crisis hídrica, según la Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL), es el único en la región centroamericana que se encuentra cercano a una situación de estrés hídrico (1,700 m3 per cápita por año), lo que lo sitúa entre los países en Latinoamérica y el Caribe con más baja disponibilidad de agua por habitante.

No obstante, lo sostenido por la CEPAL, El Salvador ya experimenta estrés hídrico, debido a que las condiciones de acceso al agua son precarias, porque a la escases provocada por la deforestación y por la contaminación de los ríos y demás fuentes superficiales, se adiciona un problema ético de gestión y distribución injusta; incluso en lugares donde aparentemente hay agua suficiente son los pobres los que tienen dificultad para acceder a ella; al mismo tiempo que propietarios de campos de golf, compañías embotelladoras, productores de caña de azúcar, y otros intereses privados utilizan toda el agua que quieran, sin importarles la forma en que afectan a las comunidades locales

Esta situación de injusticia llevó, en marzo de 2006, a un grupo de organizaciones de la sociedad civil salvadoreña, a presentar a la Asamblea Legislativa una propuesta de Ley General de Aguas, basada en principios como: la participación, el pleno acceso, el enfoque de cuenca, la sustentabilidad y la descentralización. Con el objetivo de generar un cambio en la visión y comportamiento de las instituciones del Estado y de la sociedad en general con respecto al cumplimiento del derecho humano al agua.

Durante los siguientes años hubo otras propuestas presentadas en el Parlamento, así mismo hubo diferentes acciones de presión por parte de la sociedad para que se promulgara la Ley General de Aguas; sin embargo no se produjo ningún resultado, debido a una fuerte tensión entre los partidos de derecha y el FMLN. El 14 de junio de 2017 los 4 partidos de derecha presentaron un nuevo anteproyecto de ley, denominado: “Ley Integral del Agua”, diseñado a medida de los intereses de la gran empresa privada.

Esta nueva propuesta generó un fuerte rechazo de la ciudadanía. Las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, que por más de una década han luchado por el derecho humano al agua, expresaron su preocupación y denunciaron la intensión de la derecha legislativa de entregar los recursos hídricos del país al sector privado.

Los resultados electorales del 4 de marzo configuraron un nuevo mapa político en la Asamblea Legislativa, allanando el camino para que la derecha avance con su propuesta, y como era de suponer lo está haciendo sin demora. Paradójicamente el 5 de junio, en el marco de la celebración del Día del Medio Ambiente, la comisión legislativa responsable del tema ambiental, acordó iniciar la discusión de la Ley Integral del Agua, ignorando todos los demás anteproyectos de ley presentados, incluso con mayor anticipación. Al respecto el FMLN escribió en su cuenta de twitter: Este día, valiendose de su mayoría en la Comisión de Medio Ambiente y Cambio Climático, la derecha da pasos hacia la privatización del recurso hídrico.

Por su parte las organizaciones y movimientos sociales se encuentran en alerta y se preparan fuertes movilizaciones para los próximos días.  José Santos Guevara, coordinador del Movimiento de Víctimas y Afectados por el Cambio Climático y las Corporaciones, MOVIAC afirma: Nosotros rechazamos cualquier intento de privatización del agua, y vamos a dar la pelea en las calles  para evitar que el agua se convierta en una mercancía, nuestra lucha es para que sea un bien común y su acceso un derecho humano básico.


Equality, Uncategorized, women & girls

Protecting and Preventing Acts of Violence Against Women in Morazán

El Salvador’s recently held mid-term elections on March 4, saw a staggering overturn of political power as right-wing parties overtook the senate and major municipal seats in San Salvador, La Libertad and Santa Ana; and much could be said about the ‘debacle.’ At the same time, human rights defenders and survivors are celebrating the exoneration and release of two Salvadoran women unjustly incarcerated in for miscarriages many years ago.


Last year, El Salvador experienced 3,605 homicides, a 1,675 reduction from 2016. As multitudes rise up in outrage against the country’s oppressive justice system and high rate of gender-based violence, El Salvador continues to be one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman.

2017 National Statistics
graph-1.png(source ORSMUSA)

More troubling is that the factual number of violent cases against Salvadoran women and girls are most certainly much higher than the statistics represented above because victims do not report becasue of fear of retribution and impunity. It is important to note that the majority of these victims suffer abuse in their own homes at the hand of men most close to them.

2018 Women’s March in San Salvadoroutput_mOcplO

Silvia Juárez, program coordinator for the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace  in El Salvador (ORMUSA) stated that women “are still not equal. The profound root of violence against women is inequality. We are considered human beings of less value.” On the eve of International Women’s day, a vigil was held in San Salvador and on March 8, over 3,000 marchers took to the streets to protest the country’s widespread inequality and violence against women. Their demands were simple: dignity and respect for all women and reforms to the healthcare and judicial systems.

That same day in Morazán, 600 protestors marched through the streets of San Francisco Gotera, confronting important judicial courts and even the town hall, while chanting slogans like “We don’t want flowers, we want justice!”

In 2016, 176 cases of domestic violence and 72 acts of sexual violence were reported in Morazán. According to the Citizen Network of Morazán Women (the Network), though down from the 14 official reports in 2016, five cases of femicide were invisibilizedthis year. The Network consists of 8 municipal associations scattered throughout the department with the mutual objective of promoting and defending the human rights of women. They accomplish their goals through combining unity, education and protest.

Women’s Day in Morazán, 2018output_jBLsBe

Gender-based violence is so prevalent in Morazán that it has led to the Network and other local organizations to begin to develop a community based approach to facilitate the recovery of victims and their families by educating communities and service providers, offering victims immediate and long-term support, and holding relevant  institutions accountable. Fortunately, this interrelationship of Morazán leaders exemplifies a support network of local women who can identify effective solutions to support victims of violence and their families in resource-constrained settings.

Click here for more information about the Network’s initiative and ways you can help.

The time is now.


The Worldwide Political Shift is Mirrored in El Salvador


Versión Español

On March 4, 2018 Salvadorans elected 84 Legislative Assembly members and 262 municipal leaders throughout the national territory.

Yesterday’s election is of transcendental importance for the country, mainly because the conformation of the new Legislative Assembly (2018–2021) will have, among its functions, to choose the Attorney General of the Republic, the Public Prosecutor and the Human Rights Ombudsman, as well as the president and judges of the General Accounting Office and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic. Furthermore, the elections were held one year shy of the presidential election and the results will influence the decision to elect the next president of El Salvador.

The preliminary count (with 70% of the votes processed) indicates that the FMLN will lose the election in almost all of the most important cities throughout the country, the first one being San Salvador, where the ARENA right-wing party has won 63,922 votes and the FMLN only 28,523. As regards to the vote to elect municipal leaders, on a national scale, the right-wing party has already garnered 618,458 votes, while FMLN has reached a total of 364,399. If the trend continues, the FMLN could obtain less than 28 leaders, thereby losing control of the qualified majority in the Legislative Assembly, which on this topic, an article published by El Faro expresses:

“If confirmed, the count of 27 deputies would mean for the Frente (FMLN) a 21 year retreat into history, to the same result they achieved in their second electoral participation after the war. In 1997, achieving that amount was a success that opened up their chances of achieving the presidency one day; now, after nine years in power and before (the party) Arena that in the last year has fettered successive internal crises, it is a resounding failure.”

Losing control of the qualified majority in the Legislative Assembly would mean serious complications for the last year of the government’s administration, but even more serious is that laws such as the prohibition of metallic mining could be reversed or others such as the General Water Law could be approved with the intention of privatization. Regarding this, José Santos Guevara, coordinator of MOVIAC, explains

“With the new political scenario that is approaching, the Legislative Assembly will take a 180 degree turn, in fact many of the advances in legislation can be reversed, as is the case of the law against mining. That means that for social organizations the struggle for laws in favor of the environment and human rights, becomes even more difficult.”

There are various interpretations on the causes of these results, the one that is heard most often is that it is due to the dissatisfaction of the population with the management of the FMLN government, in fact there was a strong abstention, although official data is not yet available, it is estimated that voter participation reached barely between 40% and 45%.

A renowned political analyst, Álvaro Artiga, who is a professor at the Central American University (UCA), believes that the number of votes obtained by ARENA is similar to those obtained in previous elections; however, many of the people who previously supported the FMLN did not vote. Rather than a victory of right-wing merits, it is a punishment of the FMLN from the population.

On behalf of FLMN’s leadership, there has been no statement on the results of the elections; the only one that has so far given statements to the press has been the President’s Communications Secretary, Eugenio Chicas, who said:

“People with a lot of hardness and with great clarity have given us a message that we should assume with humility: we probably made mistakes in listening to people,” “it is likely that enthralled in the exercise of power, emboldened in our own capacity for analysis we have not understood the voices of the people.”


El Cambio Político Mundial se Refleja en El Salvador.

El pasado 4 de marzo los y las salvadoreñas eligieron a 84 diputados/as de la Asamblea Legislativa y a 262 jefes/as edilicios/as en todo el territorio nacional.

Dicha elección es de transcendental importancia para el país, principalmente porque la conformación de la nueva Asamblea Legislativa (2018-2021) tendrá entre sus funciones elegir al Fiscal General de la República, al Procurador General de la República y al Procurador para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, así como al presidente y los magistrados de la Corte de Cuentas de la República y de la Corte Suprema de Justicia. Además, estas elecciones se realizaron  a tan solo un año de la elección presidencial e indudablemente los actuales resultados van a influir en la decisión para elegir al próximo presidente de El Salvador.

El recuento preliminar (con el 70% de los votos procesados) apunta a que el FMLN perderá la elección en casi todas las ciudades más importantes del país, siendo la primera de ellas, San Salvador en donde el partido derechista ARENA contabiliza 63,922 votos y el FMLN 28,523. En lo que se refiere a la votación para elegir diputados, a escala nacional, el partido de derecha suma 618,458 votos, a diferencia del FMLN que ha alcanzado un total de 364,399. Si la tendencia se mantiene, el FMLN podría obtener menos de 28 diputados con lo que perdería el control de la mayoría calificada en la Asamblea Legislativa, sobre este tema, en un artículo publicado por El Faro se expresa:

“De confirmarse, la cifra de 27 diputados supondría para el Frente retroceder 21 años en la historia, al mismo resultado que alcanzaron en su segunda participación electoral después de la guerra. En 1997 lograr esa cifra fue un éxito que abría sus posibilidades de lograr algún día la presidencia; ahora, tras nueve años en el poder y ante una Arena que en el último año ha encadenado sucesivas crisis internas, es un contundente fracaso”.

Perder el control de la mayoría calificada en la Asamblea Legislativa significaría serias complicaciones para el último año de la gestión gubernamental, pero más grave aún es que podría revertirse leyes como la prohibición de la minería metálica o aprobarse otras como la Ley General de Aguas con una intención privatizadora, al respecto José Santos Guevara, coordinador del MOVIAC, expone

“Con el nuevo escenario político que se avecina la correlación en la Asamblea legislativa va dar un giro de 180 grados, con lo cual muchos de los avances en materia legislativa se pueden revertir, como es el caso de la ley contra la minería. Eso significa que para las organizaciones sociales la lucha por leyes a favor del medio ambiente, y de los derechos humanos, se vuelve aún más difícil”.

Sobre la causas de estos resultados existen diversas lecturas, la que se escucha con más frecuencia es que se debe a la inconformidad de la población con la gestión gubernamental del FMLN, de hecho hubo un fuerte abstencionismo, aunque aún no se dispone de datos oficiales, se estima que la participación en el proceso apenas pudo haber alcanzado entre un 40% a 45% de electores.

Un reconocido analista político, Álvaro Artiga, quien se desempeña como profesor en la Universidad Centroamericana, UCA  opina que la cantidad de votos obtenidos por ARENA es similar a los obtenidos en elecciones anteriores; sin embargo, esta vez la diferencia radica en que mucha de la gente que antes ha apoyado al FMLN, no fue a votar. Entonces más que una victoria por méritos de la derecha, es un castigo de la población al FMLN.

De parte de la dirigencia del FMLN no existe ningún pronunciamiento al respecto de los resultados de la elecciones, el único que hasta el momento ha dado declaraciones a la prensa ha sido el Secretario de Comunicaciones de la Presidencia, Eugenio Chicas, quien expresó:

“La gente con mucha dureza y con mucha claridad nos ha dado un mensaje que debemos asumir con humildad, probablemente nos equivocamos en saber escuchar a la gente,” “es probable que embelesados en el ejercicio del poder, envalentonados en nuestra propia capacidad de análisis no hayamos entendido las voces de la gente.”