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El Salvador


Employment rates for women in El Salvador are relatively high, with only 4.4% of women being unemployed (2). Furthermore, 44.3% of managerial positions and 43.1% of senior and middle management positions are held by women. Despite this, 49.4% of women do not have a stable access to food (2) and as can be noticed in most countries, women in El Salvador spend a significant amount of their time on unpaid domestic labour (22.8% in this case) (2).


Literacy rates for women are quite high, as 89% of women can read and write (2). Unfortunately, 14.6% of girls are out of school meaning that they are not receiving the formal education which may give them opportunities in the future.


Maternal mortality rates are quite high with 46 deaths per 100,000 live births (2). Furthermore, per 1000 women, 69.7 have children before they reach adulthood (2). Only 11% of mothers with newborns are in receipt of maternity cash benefits (2).

Political representation

Whilst women are not equally represented in government, in 2015, women made up 32% of parliament; 33.3% of national parliament and 32.4% of local parliament.

Gender-Based Violence

El Salvador has the highest femicide rate in the world (1). Every 24 hours, a woman is murdered by a man; this figure more than doubled between the years 2013 and 2018 (1). Violence against women is extremely widespread, with 67% of women reporting that they have experienced at least one form of violence at the hands of a man (1) (this statistic represents only the women who said that they had experienced this, not the actual number of women who have). Violence in El Salvador has been so normalised that a 2018 Oxfam study found that of the men asked (all between the ages of 15-19), half believed that women stay in violent relationships because they see it as the norm. Furthermore, in the first five months of 2018, 209 women and girls disappeared (1). The high rates of violence against women may be partly attributed to the sexist views held by men, 85% of which said that they believe a ‘decent’ woman does not dress provocatively or stay out late at night (1). Women are also quite powerless when it comes to seeking protection and justice. In cases even where there are witnesses, men who have killed women are still able to get away with their crime (1), and in 2018, only 5% of femicide cases that were brought to court ended in any sort of sentence- only 3% resulted in a guilty verdict (1). In 12% of the cases of violence against women studied by The Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace in El Salvador (ORMUSA), the perpetrators were judges, lawyers or police officers who could use their authority to avoid persecution. It is also not uncommon for girls to be married at a young age- 25.5% are married before the age of 18 and 5.8% before the age of 15 (2).

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

Women who have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime: 14.3%.

Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 months against women: 5.9%.

Lifetime Non-Partner Sexual Violence against women: Official National Statistics Not Available.[2]

67% of Salvadoran women have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence and abuse by family members, a 2017 national survey found. But only 6% of victims had reported abuse to authorities.[3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

No research.

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

No research.

Current law and policy:

El Salvador commits to implementing policies to increase gender equality and decrease the prevalence of violence against women. Implemented a National Equality Plan (2016-2020) for adomestic violenceancing equality in El Salvador and is the main public policy tool of the state for gender equality under national, sectoral and municipal scope. In 2013, El Salvador adopted a ‘National Policy on Access to a Violence-Free Life for Women’, creating a Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) to guide implementation of the policy. Measures included the creation of special courts to handle crimes against women, institutional gender units, and specialized support units. Since its creation, the specialised support units have handled 1600 cases of violence and aided in therapy and rehabilitation. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed discussion of implementing a new plan.

In 2017, six new courts were established with US aid with a specific focus on crimes against women. Judges for these courts are trained against biased behaviour. Further, in 2018, the the Attorney General’s Office launched a new women’s unit (National Directorate for Women, Children, Adolescents, LGBT and vulnerable groups) to tackle violence against women, led by Ana Garciela Sagastume, the chief prosecutor on all female homicide cases across El Salvador.

El Salvador does not provide information on the monitoring and evaluation phase of its policies and national plans to address violence against women making it difficult to track progress.

Domestic violence is considered socially acceptable by a large portion of the population and there crimes against women are underreported because of the legitimate fear of reprisal. Violence against women is widespread and ineffectively investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated. 

In September, the UN announced an €15 million contribution to end femicide in Latin America. €11 million will go to El Salvador.[4]

In 2018 El Salvador’s attorney general announced the creation of a new unit to oversee crimes related to violence against women, girls, LGBTQI people and other groups vulnerable to violence.[5]

Frontline Services:



Further Reading

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