Funes Administration Not Yet Scoring Well on Women’s Issues

A recent survey conducted by Las Dignas (Women’s Association for Dignity and Life), found that Salvadoran women give President Funes a score of 6.91 out of 10 for his efforts to address women’s issues during the first 100 days of his administration. Amidst an alarming wave of violence against women, including feminicide, sexual assault and aggression, and domestic violence, Salvadoran women evaluated the new administration and expressed their opinions about steps taken to fulfill campaign promises.

The following are a couple of the questions in the survey, and some analysis of the responses.

Are the Funes Administration Initiatives responding to the Needs of Women? Women acknowledge that within the first 100 days of his administration, Funes has actively worked on stabilizing the economy, improving security, and fighting corruption. To combat the economic crisis the Funes administration has implemented a number of initiatives including; gas subsidiaries, control of basic services such as water and electricity, and educational support. Over 77% of women recognize that the government has eliminated ghost positions in efforts to combat corruption and 73% acknowledge that there has been a significant reduction in unnecessary expenses in public institutions.

Respondents of the Las Dignas survey, however, believe that the Funes administration fails to prioritize women’s rights issues. When asked whether government programs directly benefit women, only 7% responded in the affirmative. A very high 78% of women believe that the government is not doing anything to combat violence against women. In fact, 85% of respondents believe that cases of feminicide have increased, while 76% believe that domestic violence over all has risen. El Salvador reports an average of 14-15 cases of feminicide every month, many of which are the result of domestic violence. Semlac Ima Guirola, the director of Las Dignas, says that the high rates of feminicide are the result of a weak judiciary, impunity, and superficial investigations that follow when women file claims of abuse. With regard to employment rights for women, including discrimination and the lack of employment, only 6% of respondents believe that the government has taken a strong initiative.

Funes’ Campaign Promises and the Expectation of Salvadorian Women

During the campaign, now President Funes stated that we would make the rights of single women, pregnant women, and women with businesses at top priority as they struggle to support and educate their children. In doing so, he promised three central projects: Ciudad Mujer (Woman City); Madre Feliz (Happy Woman); and Madre Productiva (Productive Woman).

When complete, Ciudad Mujer will have a location in each of El Salvador’s 14 departments that will provide services just for women. The services will include health care, legal aid, psychological counseling, microcredit and business planning, training in different trades, and others. Madre Feliz and Madre Productiva are smaller projects that will complement Ciudad Mujer. Madre Feliz will provide free medication, baby food, and transportation to doctors appointments for pregnant women, while Madre Productiva will provide lines of credit to women in rural or urban areas who have or want to start a business.

While these are great projects on paper, they have yet to begin providing services, and as a result 53% of women believe that Funes is not fulfilling his campaign promise.

Despite disappointment thus far, Salvadoran women continue to have high expectations for the remaining of Funes’ time in government. Almost 52% of women expect the government to implement measure that combat violence against women. They also expect the government to take affirmative measures to provide job security, access to loans, and affordable medication.

Just a reminder – We at Voices on the Border are continuing our Virtual Delegation discussion about women’s rights in El Salvador. This past Tuesday we spoke with Tara Mathur from the Workers Rights Consortium about labor conditions of women working in the maquillas in El Salvador.

In the coming weeks we will be speaking with Morena Herrera, who is a founding member of Las Dignas, member of the board of directors of the Women’s Collective for Local Development in El Salvador. Since the early 1990’s she has been fighting to increase public participation among women, and ensure that their voices is heard by those in power. In coming weeks we will also be speaking to Salvadoran Supreme Court Justice Mirna Perla, who has been a leader in human rights for many years. We will also be speaking with Dr. Miriam Cramer from Basic Health El Salvador, who will talk about women’s health issues in El Salvador.

There is no fee to participate, though donations are always welcome – just drop us a note (voices@votb.org) and we’ll send you the call in information.