Central America: women demand political equality, no more impunity

Nicaragua‘s National Assembly observed International Women’s Day on March 8 by unanimously passing a law which requires political parties to have women as at least 50% of their candidates for municipal posts. The government’s special attorney for women, Deborah Gradinson, said Nicaraguan society remains in many ways “tolerant” of violence against women, with at least 17 women murdered so far in 2012 by partners, former partners or acquaintances. The María Elena Cuadra Movement of Working and Unemployed Women reported that only half of the 81 cases of women killed by violence in 2011 ever reached a court. “Justice for women, no more impunity” should be the slogan for the day, according to human rights activist Vilma Núñez.

Thousands of Salvadoran women marched in the main streets of San Salvador on March 8 to demand an end to gender-based violence and full compliance with the Law of Equality, Equity and No Discrimination Against Women, which was passed in 2010. “We need a better climate for women in the country,” said Ima Guirola, a representative of the Norma Virginia Guirola de Herrera Institute of Women’s Studies (CEMUJER). UN Women, a United Nations agency for women’s rights, reports that 647 Salvadoran women were murdered in 2011, up dramatically from 193 in 2000. Also on March 8, Vanda Pignato, President Mauricio Funes’ wife, criticized “the little party leadership groups that don’t let women get into power” and demanded laws to increase women’s representation in the next legislature. Only 23% of the candidates in the current March 11 legislative and municipal elections are women. (AFP, March 8, via La Nación, Costa Rica; EFE, March 8, via terra.com)

In Honduras, women in the country’s branch of the international campesino movement Vía Campesina launched a new campaign on March 8 under the slogan “for women’s dignity, we demand our right to the land.” Some 2,000 campesino, indigenous and African-descended women from around the country marched in front of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) and the National Congress in Tegucigalpa to demand a new agrarian reform law and an end to violence against women. Femicides (misogynist murders) “have increased in recent years without any investigation being carried out,” Ana Ferrera, director of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM), told the Spanish wire service EFE. “Just this year some 50 women have been reported killed by violence.” (EFE, March 8, via terra.com; Adital, Brazil, March 9, from Vía Campesina)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 11.

See our last posts on Central America and International Women’s Day.