Mujeres in Action: Analyzing the Effects Female-led Civil Society Organizations have on Policy Change in El Salvador

Graduation Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Studies

Director of the Honors Program

Gigi Gokcek, PhD

First Reader

Alison Howard, MA

Second Reader

Cynthia Taylor, PhD


In El Salvador, women were not always able to directly engage with government and policy due to the religious, traditional, and societal roles blocking them from actively participating outside the household sphere (Campfens 1998, Hite 2005). In the wake of the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992), women relied on non-conventional methods of civic engagement in order to champion issues impacting their communities. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) became instrumental for women in El Salvador to draw attention to issues disproportionately affecting women. CSOs are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on private sector rights and provide people, who are traditionally left out of the political process, with the necessary tools to mobilize (Cosgrove 2010). This project seeks to answer the question: What effects do female-led CSOs have on policy change in El Salvador? CSOs provide opportunities for women to mobilize by pursuing policy changes. Laws such as the Holistic Law for a Life Free of Violence for Women (2010) are direct legislative results of the work by women’s organizations. Interviews with members of CSOs in El Salvador provide a nuanced look at the motivations and tactics used for women to mobilize, filling gaps surrounding the role of faith-based organization techniques and the role the Catholic Church plays in social movements. In an era where women can be put in prison without trial for having miscarriages or killed by gangs as retaliatory tactics (Gomez 1999, Hume 2007, Hume 2008), it is vital to bring awareness to the changes CSOs are working to implement through legislation.

This document is currently not available here.