our work

CAWN works in solidarity with women’s organisations in Central America, supporting them to defend their rights, fostering links between women’s organisations in the United Kingdom and Central America and raising awareness of the concerns of Central American women amongst the public, NGOs and policy makers.



trafficking and explotation of women


Poverty and the demand for cheap and unprotected labour in the global economy are major and structural forces leading to massive migration from poorer to wealthier regions. Poverty and lack of opportunities lead people to seek to improve their livelihoods and to use risky means to migrate, and restrictive migration policies lead to many immigrants coming under the control of smugglers and traffickers. Furthermore, insecure immigration status increases their vulnerability to different forms of exploitation.

Along with Frauensolidaritaet in Austria and War on Want in the UK CAWN raises awareness and facilitates dialoague between civil society, policy-makers and the media.

You can find out more about the events we organise, including conferences and speaker tours  on this project’s blog. We also organise trainings for activists to help them gain greater understanding of issues surrounding trafficking of women and to equip them with the skills to campaign for change, particularly using the media.

CAWN’s advocacy work with British policy-makers, civil society organizations and journalists is based on up to date research on the reality that trafficked and exploited women face in Central America and on effective narratives to address them.

>> Trafficking of women in Central America and Mexico. October, 2012.

>> Exploitation and trafficking of women: Critiquing narratives during the London Olympics 2012. September 2013.



economic and labour rights 


Our work on economic rights and empowerment covers 4 strands:

– Improving women’s economic literacy,
– Visibilising and protecting the rights of women informal workers,
– Promoting collective enterprises in rural areas that use sustainable, grassroots (as opposed to macro projects) tourism as a strategy to empower women,
– Defending the rights of maquila workers.

Indeed, women trying to exercise their right to decent work in Central America face numerous challenges. Those working in maquilas (textile factories in free-trade zones) encounter gender discrimination at the workplace, including payment below minimum wage, long and intensive shifts of up to 12 hours, and severe occupational health problems. Women workers are also vulnerable to other rights abuses such as the denial of maternity leave, forced pregnancy tests and sexual harassment or violence.

A vast majority of women in Central American countries lack economic literacy to understand not just their economic and labour rights but also the root causes of the precariousness of their work and the national and international dynamics that lead to unemployment, underemployment, exploitation and poverty.

We work in partnership with the Movement of Employed and Unemployed Women Maria Elena Cuadra (MEC) in Nicaragua, with the Collective of Honduran Women (CODEMUH) in Honduras.

CAWN conducts advocacy work in Europe to support their struggles, participating in consultation meetings with policy-makers and civil society organizations to contribute towards the achievement of decent work and the alleviation of poverty for working women in Central America.

We also organize speaker tours in Europe with leaders of Central American feminist women-led trade unions. As global recession looms, interlocked crises convulse Europe. Social rights, including workers rights are being dismantled and  it is clearer than ever that international solidarity cannot mean solely the support of those in the global North to those in the global South. Our partner’s experiences are part of the global struggle against injustice and we want to learn with them.

In the past CAWN has also supported economic literacy efforts on the ground to enhance women’s participation in advocacy at a local, national and international level on issues relating to the macro and micro economy.

Both advocacy and on the ground work are compounded by research and publications:

>> The Impact on Women of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America: assessing CAWN’s advocacy efforts.
November 2012

>> Tourism and Development Strategy in Central America: exploring the impact on women’s lives. March 2010

>> Social Reproduction and Labour Rights: a case study of women workers in Nicaragua. February 2010

>> Gender, labour rights and the ethical trading initiative (ETI)December 2008

>> Economy Literacy: a tool for women’s empowerment in NicaraguaOctober 2008

>> The Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America: its potential impact on women’s lives in Central America
March 2008



violence against women


Violence against women is an extreme manifestation of sexism and gender discrimination that persists in all societies and in every socio-economic group, ideology, class, race, and ethnic group. It affects women in their intimate relationships, in their working life and economic activities, and jeopardises their freedom to participate in their community.

Impunity for femicide cases ride hight at 99% in Central America. The figures are alarming; in 2011 there were 647 femicides in El Salvador, 705 in Guatemala and 410 in Honduras.

More generally, violence against women is widespread. In Nicaragua a 29.3% and in Guatemala a 27.6% of women report having experienced some form of physical or sexual assault by their partners. In El Salvador there are 5 reports everyday for domestic violence.

CAWN works in partnership with the Centre of Women’s Studies (CEM-H) in Honduras, the Salvadoran Women for Peace (ORMUSA) and with the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG). Together we campaign to improve the legal framework and justice system in Central American countries to address gender-based violence, to increase social awareness of violence in the community and to strengthen the security and human rights of women.

We worked on the ground, in Honduras, between 2007 and 2011 managing a project to tackle violence against women in the region. Work included self-help groups in rural Honduras and training on reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, self-esteem and practical income generation skills for marginalised women, as well as capacity-building of women community leaders and paralegals.

CAWN’s advocacy engages with British and European Union’s policy-makers. Some key achievements are the issuing the of Declaration by the European Union against femicide in 2010 and the European Parliament Resolution on the elimination of violence against women in 2009.  In a public statement we requested the UK government to pass a resolution similar to the EU’s to ensure that femicide and violence against women are addressed in the human rights clause of the Agreement of Association between the EU and Central America. More recently, in June 2013, CAWN attended the UN Global Summit to End Violence in Conflict in London – a great opportunity to raise awareness about the systematic use of sexual violence and slavery in Guatemala during war, still unpunished – and we distributed hundreds of this flyer.

Extensive research and various publications support our advocacy:

>> Guatemala: Redress and punish sexual violence during conflict. June 2014

>> The war against women: a Latin America Bureau Special Newsletter. March 2013

>> Toolkit for Intersecting Violences: Putting Intersectional Analysis into Practice. March 2011

>> Intersecting Violences: A Review of Feminist Theories and Debates on Violence Against Women in Latin America. October 2010

>> Feminicidio: Un fenómeno global de Lima a Madrid. May 2010

>>  Violence against Women and Girls: Your Questions, Our Answers. December 2010

>> The Response of International Aid Agencies to Violence against Women in Central America –the case of Honduras. November 2008

>> No more killings! Women respond to femicides in Central America. March 2007


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