videos and audio


'Celebrating Nicaraguan Women's successes', CAWN's talk on International Women's Day 2014. Listen to the interventions of experts and to the discussion that followed.


Listen to a very interesting exchange of ideas during CAWN's roundtable 'Responsible narratives of exploitation and trafficking of women: The role of social communicators' held in January 2014.


'Life at any price' is a documentary about the impact of the law in El Salvador that bans abortion in all circumstances, including rape, foetal abnormality, and even when a mother's life is at risk. 

This is a documentary produced by Al Jazeera with the support of the Central America Women's Network (CAWN) and the Salvadoran Citizen's Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.


A campaigner at the 'Honduran Collective of Women' (CODEMUH) and ex-maquila worker campaigns on behalf of women's workers in Honduran export processing zones). Hear what she told us in London.


'Using Video for Campaigning and Advocacy' is a short film created by the trainees of CAWN's two day workshop held during the last UK Feminista Summer School 2012.


Images of exploited and trafficked women is a video-summary of the conference that took place on April 27th 2012.




Please note that CAWN does not necessarily share all opinions expressed in these links and disclaims responsibility for the content of these documents and resources.

Join CAWN for a picnic to support our half marathon runners to fundraise for abused women

22nd June , 2014

In support of our half marathon runners CAWN is organising a ‘bring and share’ picnic at the Race Village, Hackney Marsh, Homerton Road between 09.00 and 13.00. It is an opportunity to show solidarity with and to raise some funds for Central American Women.


Learning to maximize popular media's potential for women's rights: a reflection from a roundtable in Brussels on 14 May 2014


'Building an inclusive media' will offer the opportunity to hear first-hand about innovative initiatives from the global South harnessing the power of the media to empower vulnerable communities and conduct successful public campaigning. There will also be space to discuss critiques of European mainstream media narratives on development issues.

How have feminists in Nicaragua harnessed the power of TV sociodramas (telenovelas) and what have been the main challenges? Is popular media an effective tool to advance wmen's rights in Central America and elsewhere? Helen Dixon told us about her work with Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua harnessing the potential for using television to socialise. Listen to her here.


El Salvador - Life at any price. Screening and Discussion Forum to celebrate International Women's Day

February, 2014

CAWN and the Casa Latina are co-hosting a screening and discussion forum (in Spanish!) on 6 March. All welcome!

19.00, 6th March, 2014 at Casa Latina, 10 Kingsgate Place, London, NW6 4TA


CAWN becomes a signatory of the Alternative Trade Mandate founding document.

February, 2014

The Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance (ATM) is an alliance of almost 50 organisations, developing an alternative vision of European trade policy that puts people and planet before big business.

Our belief is that Europe's trade has to be fundamentally changed. Our alternative respects human rights, and is democratically controlled by parliamentarians and the public. It's ecological, respects gender equality and creates justice between countries, social classes and ethnicities. We propose a trade policy that increases economic, social and environmental well-being globally.

In the future CAWN will be supporting campaigns and calls for action from the ATM
- will you join us?


Responsible narratives of exploitation and trafficking of women: The role of social communicators

8 January 2014, 4.30 – 6.00 pm, Central London

‘Slavery works as a public fantasy through which the real problems of the world can be pushed to one side and replaced with an ideology of evil – meaning we don’t have to come up with practical solutions to issues like low pay or migrant exploitation but instead can rail against the “evil slave-owners” who allegedly lurk behind such phenomena’.  Frank Furedi

Exploitation and trafficking of women: critiquing narratives during the London Olympics 2012was published in September 2013 to inform our work around the role of civil society and the media in shaping public understanding of the different forms of exploitation experienced by women, in particular migrant women, in the context of major sporting events.

The discussion forum will bring together campaigners, journalists, social media activists and practitioners from frontline organizations to critically discuss our responsibility to construct comprehensive narratives. We will be accompanied by authors Sue Branford and Kate Cooper as well as Holly Young from The Guardian’s Modern-Day Slavery Hub, and expert academics.

‘Governments would do better to focus on the human rights of all migrants in the UK, not just those who fall into the restrictive definition of ‘trafficked’ people. In order for this change to occur, we need to work effectively together, not only by campaigning against particular legislation but by also exerting pressure to counter particular ideologies that impede a reasoned and rational debate.’ Kate Cooper and Sue Branford.


Talk by Morna Macleod - In Defence of Mother Earth: The Struggle of Doña Crisanta against a mining corporation in Guatemala

November, 2013

Last October CAWN co-organized a meeting about women organized against corporate mining in Guatemala and the new 'good living' (buen vivir) school of thought. Morna Macleod is the co-author of a new book on a Mayan woman's life and struggle against Goldcorp, the first open-pit goldmine in Guatemala.

Morna's inspiring talk is available here.

CAWN interviewed Morna about her views on the future for Guatemalan women human rights defenders and the struggle for human and environmental rights versus corporation's rights.

Listen to CAWN's interview here.



Welcoming Nicaraguan films to the London Feminist Film Festival!

November, 2013

We are delighted to welcome in London a Nicaraguan film about a visionary women's rights group working to end sexual violence at home, in bed and in the streets through their powerful blend of TV drama and grassroots organizing.

Liz Miller’s documentary At Home, in Bed and in the Streets (En la Casa, la Cama y la Calle) follows a visionary women’s rights group in Nicaragua which is working to end sexual violence at home, in bed, and in the streets through a powerful blend of TV drama and grassroots organising.

Made by women and aired on commercial television, family drama Contracorriente has reached millions of viewers in countries in Central America and the Caribbean, and is at the centre of a campaign to prevent the growing wave of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Chronicling their process over three years, En la casa gets behind the scenes with this visionary team of writers, actors, and producers as they create Contracorriente and work to promote awareness of the issues it raises.

Don't miss it on Friday November 29th at 9pm in the London Feminist Film Festival

The Marginal Among the Invisible: Women in the Informal EconomySpeaker Tour: 1st – 12th November

When we think about employment we generally focus on formal jobs, thus rendering millions of workers invisible. Many workers are self-employed in small unregistered businesses or wage-earners in cleaning, catering, commerce and other sectors of the informal economy, where economic activities are not regulated nor protected by the State. In some sub-Saharan African countries the informal economy is estimated to be as high as 90% of the total workforce. Women are over-represented among workers with non-standard employment arrangements and have indeed joined the informal economy in large numbers.

Guatemala 1

CAWN, along with partners War on Want and Frauensolidaridat, have invited two women leaders from the Nicaraguan Movement of Working and Unemployed Women Maria Elena Cuadra (MEC) and from the Malawian Union for the Informal Sector (MUFIS) to tour the UK. They will share their experience of organising women domestic workers, street vendors and home-based workers.

The tour will visit Glasgow, Manchester, London and Vienna. In London, the schedule for seminars is as follows:

Monday, 4th November – Manchester University (5 to 7 pm).

Tuesday, 5th November – London School of Economics (6.30 to 8.30 pm)

Wednesday, 6th November – Latin American House (London) (6.30 to 8.30 pm)

Thursday, 7th November – London South Bank University (4 to 5.30 pm)

Thursday, 7th November – The Right to the City at Candid Arts, 3 Torrens Street (6.30 to 9.30pm)

Saturday 9th November - Meet the speakers for an informal chat at Hundred Years Gallery (6.00 – 8 pm)

Email us to with any queries.



End persecution of Honduran indigenous leaders

October 2013

CAWN has written to the Honduran government in solidarity with human rights defenders Berta Cáceres Flores, Aureliano Molina Villanueva and Tomas Gomez Membreño, leaders of the Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations (COPINH). They are being criminalised because of their role defending the human rights of the Lenca indigenous population and are facing unfounded criminal charges.

The joint letter has also been signed by War on Want, Front Line Defenders and Women in Development Europe (WIDE Plus). Please feel free to use it to urge the Honduran government to take immediate measures to resolve this grave situation and ensure that these human rights defenders can continue their vital work.

Download the letter - English

Descarga la carta - Español

Berta Caceres


Documentary screening & discussion: "El Salvador: not even to save a woman's life"

September, 2013

The screening of 'El Salvador: Not even to save a woman's life' will be followed by a panel Discussion on 2 October in London.

Experts on reproductive rights from Amnesty International, International Planned Parenthood Federation and CAWN will join a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Book your tickets here:


New documentary "El Salvador: Life at any price"

August, 2013

CAWN is proud to have partnered with Al Jazeera to investigate whether El Salvador's strict abortion laws are putting women's lives at risk.

Reporter Sarah Spiller investigates the impact of a law in El Salvador that bans abortion in all circumstances, including rape, foetal abnormality, even when a mother’s life is at risk.

In April 2013 the case of a pregnant woman suffering from health complications and carrying a baby missing part of its brain ignited debate within this Central American state and abroad. Under El Salvador’s abortion law doctors wanting to operate on the mother would have faced jail if they’d carried out a termination. The case has led to international calls for El Salvador to re-think the ban.

Travelling around the country, Sarah Spiller hears the dilemmas faced by medical professionals torn between the care of their patients and their legal obligation to report cases of abortion. She examines claims that the abortion law has led to some women being imprisoned for up to 30 years after suffering miscarriages.

In a secretly recorded interview, the programme also reveals how the ban has driven women to seek dangerous illegal abortions.


The documentary, part of the series People and Power, will be aired on August 7 at 10.30 GMT on Al Jazeera English.


International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: Mexico - Justice for Hilda

July, 2013

In 2009, when Hilda, a woman of scarce resources, was 18 years old, she was accused of an illegal abortion by health personnel after seeking care at a government hospital. The accusation was based on the confession she was forced to make in exchange for life-saving medical treatment, without the presence of a lawyer.
On April 5th of this year, she was found guilty of illegal abortion despite the lack of evidence against her. The accusation is invalid and violates Hilda's right to not self-incriminate and to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Hilda's case demonstrates judicial authorities' prejudice related to abortion and medical personnel's criminalization of women who seek care in government hospitals in Mexico. It is a pattern that GIRE has documented within health services that places women´s health and lives at risk.
Please show your support for Hilda by signing this letter to San Luis Potosi's Supreme Court Justices Zeferino Esquerra Corpus, Carlos Alejandro Robledo and María Guadalupe Orozco Santiago, asking them to resolve Hilda´s appeal for justice and acknowledge the lack of evidence against her by reversing her guilty sentence
Because of the urgency of the situation, the petition is in Spanish.


 FoE International demands the annulment of legal proceedings againstBerta Caceres and the Honduras Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH)

June, 2013

On Thursday June 13, Honduran environmental and human rights activist Berta Cáceres from COPIHN is due to appear in court to answer charges that have been unjustly brought against her. To support please write a letter to the addresses below; you can use the template suggested by FoE: 

I would like to express our concern over the repeated episodes of violence against social leaders in Honduras caused by state forces and by mercenaries hired by companies, landowners and several consortia, as a variety of national testimonies and international reports confirm. 

I would also like to table a petition of concern to your institutions, in light of the trial indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres faces in your country, which I consider to be illegitimate, illegal and represents a high risk for her personal integrity and the security of her organization, the Honduras Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH). 

We have been notified over the past few weeks about the persecution and criminalization of this social activist who works for the rights of Honduran indigenous peoples, their territories and culture, against whom the authorities have initiated unjustified legal proceedings accusing her of the illegal possession of a firearm without any formal evidence.

 Berta Cáceres has been summoned to court in the city of Santa Bárbara, Honduras on June 13, at 9am, to defend herself against these false accusations.

Legal proceedings were initiated on May 24, 2013, following the illegal detention of Berta Cáceres and indigenous journalist Tomás Gómez, both members of the Honduras Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH), while they were traveling to the area where the Lenca indigenous people are mobilizing against the installation of the Agua Zarca hydro power dam. If this dam is built, hundreds of indigenous families of the Honduran North-West region will be displaced. 

In the operation that resulted in their arrest, over 15 members of the Honduran Army and the Police participated. They were arrested without a warrant and despite the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has extended a precautionary measure in favor of this Honduran leader, following multiple threats against her life.

Berta and Tomás stated that the officers stopped the COPINH vehicle in which they were traveling and detained them with vehicles identified with the logos of the consortium responsible for the construction of the dam (DESA-SINOHIDRO and FICOSAH bank).Berta was detained for almost 24 hours and is now prevented from leaving the country and has to make herself present at the police headquarters every week until the case is solved (See article).

The COPINH members’ detention testifies to the strong trend towards the militarization of the Honduran police. The actions by the Honduran armed and security forces violate the human rights of social, environmental and indigenous activists who are systematically harassed as if they were “enemies” and not citizens who are entitled to their rights. 

Berta Cáceres’ life and freedom are at risk and depend on the outcome of the hearing that will take place on June 13. 

Therefore I am addressing you calling for the immediate annulment of the proceedings against Berta Cáceres’ and demanding the Honduran authorities and international human rights organizations to guarantee the necessary conditions for her to continue working as a defender of the human and environmental rights of indigenous and peasant communities and women in Honduras.

Procuradora General de la República: Abogada Ethel Deras.

Procuradoría General de la República: Jefe Regional Sta Bárbara, Abog. David Edgardo Sabillon.

Corte Suprema: Presidente, Sr. Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés.

Sr. Antonio Calix Hernandez
Magistrado Coordinador de la Sala Penal, Corte Suprema de Justicia de Honduras 

 Secretaría de Justicia y Derechos Humanos: Abogada Ana Pineda

Fiscalia de las Etnias: Lic. Jany del Cid Martinez

Ministro de las Etnias: Sr. Luis Green.

Fiscalia de Derechos Humanos: Sr. Germán Enamorado 



Honduran Women's Collective challenges transnational coporations

May, 2013

In 2010 The Honduran Women's Collective and 46 maquila textile industry workers from CHOLOMA HANES, HBI ® a subsidiary of ETN's HANESBRANDS INC made a complaint, in order to protect their human rights,  to the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as governing body of the Code of Conduct, as signed by Hanesbrans Inc. Their rights were being violated through:

  • discriminatory access to job stability
  • an unsafe work environment
  • unfair wages
  • illegally long working days of up to 11 ½ hours
  • unrealistically high production targets

However, instead of investigating the workers complaints and calling for the company to respect the rights of workers, the FLA used the information to cover up the violations, and the evaluators distorted the information provided by CODEMUH.

In front of the Honduran population and the international community, especially North American and European consumers, we denounce the FLA.
It has become clear that the FLA, in its methods of handling and investigating complaints, has sought only to hide labor malpractices, thereby impairing the human rights of the workers and complainants.


The Honduran Women's Collective CODEMUH

Regional campaign: Stop violence in the workplace! We want jobs but with dignity!

Central American Network of Women in Solidarity with Maquila Workers



United Nations experts call on El Salvador to allow an emergency abortion to save Beatriz’s life

May, 2013

Some of the world’s leading human rights experts have called on the government of El Salvador to allow doctors to save a woman’s life by terminating her pregnancy.
Doctors treating ‘Beatriz’ urgently need to terminate her pregnancy to save her life. Neither Beatriz nor the foetus she is carrying can survive the pregnancy.
Abortion is criminalised in all circumstances in El Salvador – including to save a woman’s life. If her doctors perform an abortion, both they and Beatriz will face prosecution for murder and up to 50 years in prison, even though the foetus is not even viable.

The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights issued a direct appeal urging the government of El Salvador to provide Beatriz with the medical care she urgently needs and to protect her rights to life and health, in accordance with international human rights standards.Beatriz suffers from a number of underlying health conditions and it is very dangerous for her to be pregnant. As well as systemic lupus, kidney problems and rheumatoid arthritis, Beatriz has serious obstetric complications, including dangerously high blood pressure, preeclapsia, lupus and restricted uterine growth.

The foetus Beatriz is carrying cannot survive outside the womb - ultrasound scans have established that it is anencephalic, that it is not developing a brain.
As this unviable pregnancy continues, it is destroying Beatriz’s kidneys and she is now in early stage renal failure.

“The uncertainty has extended the suffering of Beatriz, who is fully aware of the health of the foetus and the risk of death that she also faces, forcing her into a situation that is cruel, inhuman and degrading,” said Juan E. Mendez, Rashida Manjoo, Arnand Grover and Kamala Chandrakirana in the appeal.

Both El Salvador's Minister of Health and the Attorney General for Human Rights have called for an exception to the abortion ban in order to save Beatriz's life.
However, the Public Prosecutor has said he will proceed against the doctors and Beatriz, and the Protection Board of childhood and adolescence has appointed an attorney to protect the rights of the unborn.

A request for speedy legal intervention was made to the Constitutional Court on 18 April, which should have ruled on the case within five days. However the Court has delayed making this life and death decision, demanding instead that Beatriz is subjected to further mental and physical examinations.
As each day passes, Beatriz’s life hangs in the balance.

Notes for editors

  1. Contact: Vickie Knox | |+44 7531 352 419

The Central American Women’s Network (CAWN )

  1. Abortion is banned under all circumstances by Article 133 of El Salvador’s Penal Code com/downloads/229093/Codigo_Penal_de_El_Salvador.pdf

  1. Not even to save a woman’s life.

Abortion is criminalised throughout Central America. El Salvador and Nicaragua have the most stringent bans on abortion, which allow for no exception for cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother's health or severe foetus abnormality – not even to save a woman’s life in immediate risk. Honduras and Guatemala share similar legislations although emergency abortion - to save the mother's life - is permitted.
The effects of this criminalisation are causing widespread human rights violations and reflect systemic discrimination against women in the region.
Women and girls are forced to continue with pregnancies which endanger them and can be left to die from an ectopic pregnancy or obstetric emergency, denied life-saving treatment whilst pregnant if it could provoke a miscarriage and reluctant to seek medical help after a miscarriage in case they are accused of procuring an abortion.

  1. United Nations human rights experts

Juan E. Mendez – UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Rashida Manjoo – UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences, Anand Grover – UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health, and Kamala Chandrakirana – chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

For further information see:
Right to Health:
Violence against women:
Discrimination against women:
UN Human Right – El Salvador:


You can sign the petition here



Salvadorean woman imprisoned for abortion is pardoned and freed

March, 2013

We celebrate the judge's decision and reiterates its call to the government of El Salvador to withdraw its cruel and destructive total criminalization of abortion.

A Salvadorean judge has pardoned Mery (a pseudonym), a woman aged 27 with mental disabilities who had been imprisoned for inducing an abortion, who after she was sentences tried to kill herself and was in prison for 6 months.

The absolute prohibition of abortion in the country is among the mot extreme in the world, as it is prohibited even to save the life of the woman, and also imposes hard punishments against women and doctors who participate in the procedure.

The Women Citizen's Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion on ethical, therapeutic and fetal disability grounds appealed in October 2012 to the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights for dignified treatment for Mery and exposed the consequences of illegal abortion for Salvadorean women like her. The Commission asked the Government to state what means had been taken to protext the personal integrity of Mery. The judge appointed by the State to respond determined that because she remained at risk of a new attempt at suicide in prison. Her sentence should be suspended on 14 March 2013.

More information



Karla Lara: the voice of maquila  women.

February, 2013

“Blanca” is the name of a song included in the last album of Honduran Karla Lara  entitled “Recordarles” (Remember them). The tune sings to the women workers who, like Blanca, the protagonist in the song, work in the maquila. Blanca shares her feelings about the abuses that women suffer in the factory: endless working hours, unpaid overtime work, lack of rights. Is not just the story of a worker is also the story of a mother who is trying to bring up her family, juggling all responsibilities by herself.

Karla Lara is indeed the voice of a generation of women in Central America fighting for their rights and to become a visible part of society.



Statement by Guatemalan Garifuna Organisations

February, 2013

Women's associations Iseri Ibagari, Africamerica XXI and Organización Negra Guatemalteca (ONEGUA - Black Guatemaltecan Organisation), over the death threats, violence against women and attempted femicide that our sisters and colleges Ingrid Alicia  Gamboa Gonzalez y Aura Delfina Pascual Alvarez, both members and leaders of Garifuna organisations, have been suffering.

We, members of the Garifuna Parliament of Guatemala, express:

Our concern and rejection of the acts of discrimination and racism by union leader Mr. Sebastian Choc Coc, against the Garifuna sisters and brothers who work in the health sector, specifically in the Health Center / CAIMI Livingston, by hindering their contract renewal for jobs they have been doing for many years, just because of their racial and ethnic background.

Our repudiation for the persecution, intimidation, threats and even attempts of femicide against our sister and colleague colleges Ingrid Alicia  Gamboa Gonzalez, who reported these racist acts, which point Mr. Sebastian Choc Coc as the responsible mind behind these actions.

Our solidarity and continuous and ongoing support to our sisters and colleagues Ingrid Alicia  Gamboa Gonzalez y Aura Delfina Pascual Alvarez, for the cessation and clarification of these events, which are detrimental to our entire community and to the peaceful coexistence and harmony that has characterized our people.

To the authorities of the Judiciary, officials of the Health Sector Union, Ministry of Public Affairs, Home Office, National Police, Ministry of Public Health, Human Rights Ombudsman, the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism, Advocacy of Indigenous Women,

We demand:

  1. The effective investigation and clarification of the events that our sisters and colleagues Ingrid Alicia  Gamboa Gonzalez y Aura Delfina Pascual Alvarez have experienced and suffered, and the corresponding application of justice and prosecution of those behind of such acts.
  2. Guarantees for safeguarding the physical, emotional and spiritual integrity of our sisters Ingrid Alicia Gamboa Gonzalez y Aura Delfina Pascual Alvarez, and the protection of their heritage.
  3. The development of programs, activities and actions to prevent and fight racist and discriminatory attitudes against the Garifuna and other indigenous peoples and ethnic groups in our region.


ASSOCIATION ISERI IBAGARI                             




Women resisting austerity and exploitation: global struggles and stories

1st November 2012

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. We must strategise across borders to stand up to reckless trade and labour liberalisation, corpocracy and the prioritisation of profits before people.

CAWN and War on Want have invited to the UK leaders of feminist and female-led Honduran and South African organisations that defend and promote the rights of women and women workers . Their experiences are part of the global struggle against injustice and we want to learn with them.

Reyna Quintanilla, campaigner at 'Honduran Collective of Women' (CODEMUH)

Ex-maquila worker and currently CODEMUH's organiser & member of staff, Reyna campaigns on behalf of women's wokers in Honduran EPZ (Export Processing Zones) where more than 75% of workers are women.

Violence at the workplace, health and safety issues, and very precarious work conditions are some of the challenges workers face in the maquilas. Reina helps them to raise their voice against these abuses and lobbies for a reform of Honduras' outdated labour codes, which would significantly improve sweatshop working conditions.

Patricia Dyata, Secretary General at Sikhula Sonke

A former farm worker and dweller Patricia now acts as the Secretary General of a women-led trade union for farmers in South Africa and campaigns for their labour and housing rights, including a living wage, decent healthcare provision and maternity and paternity leaves. Sikhula Sonke also supports unionized workers who face harassment from their employers and police.

You are invited to join the tour's events. We have listed some of them below (but there are more!) Please, email us to to book your place and find out about the tour's schedule.

Public meeting: CAWN and War on Want premises on Weds 28 November at 6.30 pm

University seminars:

American Studies Institute: Tuesday 27 November; 12 to 2 pm

London Southbank University: Tuesday 27 November; 5.30 - 7.30 pm (room LR260, London Road Building)

Glasgow University : Friday 30 November; 2 - 5 pm



We stand in solidarity with Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras

11th October 2012

Following a global call for action from the Meso-American Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, a delegation of Central America Women's Network and War on Want members visited today Ivan Romero Martinez, the Honduran Ambassador in London, to  request he passes our concerns about widespread violence against women and Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras to the Honduran government.

We denounced the violence perpetrated against communities defending their territories and against Women Human Rights Defenders, journalists, young people, and others who are exercising the rights as guaranteed by the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We denounced that these crimes are not reported nor investigated by authorities.

Since the coup d’etat in June 2009, a climate of total impunity has pervaded Honduras, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism or defend human rights.

Between 2010 and 2011, seven Women Human Rights Defenders were assassinated and thousands had faced sexual assaults, beatings and arbitrary arrests at the hands of state security forces. . An example of this is human rights defender Ms Gladys Lanza Ochoa, to who the Honduran government has not offered measures of protection yet, despite receiving continuous threats against her and her family members.

Women and men from indigenous and rural communities have been brutally evicted along with their families. Recently, on 6th October, Jose Isabel Morales was unfairly imprisoned in the region of Aguán for his involvement in the agrarian struggle fighting for the land that had been legally allotted to campesinogroups and is now in the hands of rich landlords.

CAWN and War on Want expressed to the Ambassador our support of communities fighting against the imposition of megaprojects and model cities, and denounce the forced evictions and stripping of property for the benefit of private transnational companies. We demanded an end to the arbitrary exercise of power, the use of force, impunity, and the criminalization of Women Human Rights Defenders in Aguán and other regions of Honduras. These are in direct violation of the State’s obligations under international human rights treaties, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).


  The criminalisation of abortion is killing women

27th September 2012

Imprisoned for 30 years for having a stillbirth.
Denied life-saving cancer treatment when 6 weeks pregnant.
Forced to carry a rapist’s baby at the age of 12.
This is reality for women and girls who live under Central America’s abortion laws.

On 28 September, CAWN publishes ‘Maternal Health, Reproductive Rights and the Criminalisation of Abortion in Central America’ to coincide with the day of action and demonstrate solidarity with the 28 September campaign in Central America.

Not even to save a woman’s life.

Abortion is criminalised throughout Central America. El Salvador and Nicaragua have the most stringent bans on abortion, which allow for no exception for cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother's health or severe foetus abnormality – not even to save a woman’s life in immediate risk. Honduras and Guatemala share similar legislations although emergency abortion - to save the mother's life - is permitted.

The effects of this criminalisation are causing widespread human rights violations and reflect systemic discrimination against women in the region.

Women and girls are forced to continue with pregnancies which endanger them and can be left to die from an ectopic pregnancy or obstetric emergency, denied life-saving treatment whilst pregnant if it could provoke a miscarriage and reluctant to seek medical help after a miscarriage in case they are accused of procuring an abortion.

30 years in prison for having a stillbirth

In El Salvador, this law has led to the arbitrary imprisonment of women who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. Abortion is punishable with up to eight years in prison, but if the foetus is deemed to have been viable the charge is habitually converted to murder, which carries a sentence of 30 to 50. There are at least 24 women currently serving sentences of 30 years or more for murder after having a stillbirth, and hundreds more who have been imprisoned for abortion. Young, poor women are disproportionately affected, and come under immediate suspicion when they lose a baby.

In 2005 20-year-old Sonia Tábora was sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder after went into premature labour at seven months, and was accused by a doctor of having an abortion. She was transferred from hospital to remand as though she were a dangerous criminal and convicted in a trial which did not meet international standards: no autopsy was carried out and the prosecution relied solely on the word of the doctor and did not present any direct or scientific evidence. Tábora had a mental breakdown and spent over 7 years in prison before being released on 14 August 2012, following a review of her sentence. Although she was released, she was not exonerated of the crime for which she had been prosecuted.

The criminalisation of abortion is killing women

It is accepted that the criminalisation of abortion does not stop abortions from taking place – it only stops safe and legal abortions; it leads to unsafe, illegal abortions, which may take place in unsanitary conditions, often result in complications and death and are one of the main causes of maternal mortality in countries when abortion is banned.

In the Central America region 95 per cent of all abortions are unsafe, including self-induced abortion and surgery conducted by non-professionals. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death, with high mortality rates of between 100 to 120 deaths per 100,000 live births.

This 28 September – the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe Abortion – the Central American Women’s Network (CAWN) is calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in Central America and for safe and legal access to abortion.

28 September has been the Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean for 20 years, and 2012 sees the campaign go international, as the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, with actions in the UK and across the World.


Upcoming trainings and discussion forum by CAWN

28th August 2012

CAWN will run a two days training for young activists interested in using video for advocacy and campaigning as part of UK Feminista Summer School 2012.
15-16 September will be a weekend of training, skill sharing and planning for feminist activism in the University of Bristol. CAWN will help feminists to learn how to produce a video from the filming process to the final edit, and including how to publish it on the web.

Participants are required to attend both sessions, each lasting 5 hours. To apply please email us to with short answers to the following questions:

1) Why you are interested in the course
2) If you have any previous experience with video and film-making and if so, which
3) What would you like to do with your newly gained skills

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Activists are also invited to join CAWN's Discussion Forum on Trafficking of Women in Central America on 27 September.

In a region with high levels of poverty, gender discrimination and violence trafficking of women goes unabated. In a new paper, to be launched at the Forum, CAWN denounces the links between corporatocracy, militarization, inequality and State connivance as factors at the root of the trafficking of women and girls within the region and out of it.

Following a brief presentation of the situation, we will screen 'The Lost Girls', a 20 minutes documentary about trafficking of women in Honduras. We would like to gather your thoughts and action ideas for CAWN's campaining. The meeting will take place at 44 - 48, Shepherdess Walk (N1 7PL) from 6 until 8.30 pm. Free copies of the briefing paper will be available.

It'll be a rather informal gathering but we are still asking for confirmation of attendance, preferably by 25th September, by emailing to


CAWN presents Activity Report January 2011 to June 2012

Between January 2011 until June 2012, CAWN has continued to work on violence against women. The situation has not improved for women, and indeed, their experiences may be even worse than when CAWN was founded. Alarming statistics reveal the extreme levels violence and atrocities of femicide committed against women in the region. What has changed is that more women are fighting back, as women have created support groups, gathered research and evidence and taken their cases to court, pushing the issue of violence against women up the political agenda.

Since our foundation, CAWN has supported women’s organisations in the region through advocacy work, political lobbying, holding conferences and events – often with inspirational women from Central America – and producing research reports and information to continually raise awareness of the ongoing women’s struggles. In this report of our work over the last eighteen months, January 2011 to June 2012– we hope to give you an insight into the projects we have been involved in and how we work to ensure that these issues and the work of women in Central America are not forgotten here in the UK.


Honduras coup d'etat: a feminist call three years after

Alert for our lives, our bodies, our freedom, our happiness, for our America

28th June 2012

Enthusiastic about the possibility of change and the hope emerging between pain and exploitation that has marked its history, Honduras was hit three years ago by the oligarchy with U.S. support, in that grim 28 June. Feminists of the continent took to the streets as soon as they heard the first bells ring. The lessons learnt during the dictatorships of the 70s and 80s stirred our blood, the memory of our ancestors made us stand up along with the Honduran Resistance movement,;we knew we should fight again to stop the repression against the people and raise the voices of our rage.

It has been three years. There are many dead by this blow every day, too many bodies tortured, exiled, displaced from their homes, from their loved ones, and caught in downwards spirals of precarity.

The people are outraged due to the loss of their few rights, theusurpation of their lands and natural resources, the militarization of their territories, the ‘gringo‘ [North American] arrogance, paramilitarization of politics, the aggressions of landowners' private guards, the impunity in Honduras. We continue to act with integrity and conviction seeking to stop the repression.

Legitimate press assasinated so that only one voice can speak: that of power. We count by the tens funerals of trade unionists, peasants, youth, women, and we have cried with their loved ones.

The organizations and individuals that join the resistance loss their loved ones, and yet, they continue looking for ways to denounce a system which makes possible the growth of widespread violence, including an outrageous increase of femicides, and crimes directed against the LGBTTI community. Patriarchy takes its toll in the shadow of dictatorial despotism.

The arrangements of Cartagena de Indias, and the carte blanche given him by the governments of most of Latin America and the world to the government of Porfirio Lobo has not only aggravated the vulnerability of the Resistance and many of these governments remain today silent in the face of those who they once identified as dictators. It must be said clearly: that decision has isolated those determined to hold high the flag of the Resistance.

That's why today we want to draw your attention again on this policy of death. We denounce that currently targeted killings of activists critical for the Honduran resistance are taking place, especially those who have a history of many years of struggle in Honduras and have led its various political and social projects, with the clear objective of hitting the organizations involved in the battles against transnational oligarchy and those reponsible for the coup d'etat.

We fear for the lives of our sisters and our brothers and their families, for their safety, the integrity of the bodies now targets of extermination. We want to highlight that this policy is on-goingin Honduras and that it takes its toll every day.

As feminists we want to make a collective call to look again into Honduras. Our voices do not want to be complacent or patient: it's urgent to mobilized solidarity across the continent! Otherwise we will be accomplices to the US policies that seek to make Honduras the starting point for the remilitarization of Central America.  From every corner of our America, we encourage to organize protests and demands with energy and strength.

To demand the governments who voted for the access of Honduras to the Organization of American States and the international bodies which require compliance with human rights, to hault the repression and to advance justice against the perpetrators of the coup and each of the crimes against the people.

To demand a halt to military operations in Honduras, and withdraw the Yankee bases.

To demand the end of the raids, evictions, and military interventions in rural settlements.

To remind them that our bodies are not the spoils of their wars and to defend the body as the territory of our rebellion.

To denounce that as in other parts of the America, indigenous and black peoples are , harrassed, killed and evicted as they stand against mega-projects that exploit the country's wealth, financed by the coup-doers To demand justice and stop to these attacks.

To bring to a halt the cultural, territorial looting and aggressions against our sovereignty and autonomy, the privatization of rivers and woodlands, and to demand an end to the occupation policy and U.S. military intervention imposed on the Honduran people. To demand that the Model Cities law, by which land is given to foreign investors and that violates the sovereignty of the country is declared unconstitutional.

To claim an end to the femicides, and violence and murder against the LGTTB community. To investigate and prosecute the murderers.

We call you to once again meet us in the streets and squares of the Americas, to draw with our bodies the contours of the desired freedom, to collectively re-found a life that does not multiply pain but passion, laughter and pleasures.

To accompany our Honduras and to embrace the strength of her who struggle every day, and stop the infamy of war against a people who love life.

Read original call in Spanishhere.


Marilyn Thomson, CAWN's co-Director, shares her reflections about successful strategies to include women's voices in decision-making processes, learning from CAWN's project experience in Honduras.

11th June 2012

A successful strategy, Marilyn says, was to build capacity to improve service delivery for women affected by violence with local judiciary, judges and public prosecutors, the police, town council and local health ministry. Our partner, the Women's Studies Centre (CEMH) together with other women’s organisations contributed to successful lobbying that led to the Congress approving a budget for the creation of 9 special units to investigate femicides. Another gain was the free telephone help-line for emergency help to women victims of violence.

After the coup [in 2009], relations changed and the sympathetic judges who had been involved were moved from their posts or to other positions.The coup crushed  trust that had been built up in women’s organisations to engage with the state, with a backlash for women’s rights immediately after the coup and those politicians who had been working effectively for women’s rights and for an end to violence against women were removed from office.

CAWN carried out effective advocacy work in the UK and at a European level to raise awareness of femicides and after the coup. We regularly invited a beneficiaries of the project (legal promoters and organisers) as well as CEMH staff to come to the UK. In March 2011 the women spoke at a meeting in the House of Commons, they also spoke to policy makers, at conferences with students and academics and they met women’s organisation around the country. The women found the experience of coming to the UK and having their voices heard very empowering and to hear their point of views. One of the women activists who came to the UK later stood in local elections and became a local councillor.

So it’s been one step forward and 2 steps back for women’s right in Honduras – but what is clear is that once women realise they have a voice and that they can have an impact and make changes – there is no holding them back from standing up for their rights.

You can watch here the video of the seminar from which this extract has been taken.


CAWN's conference 'Images of exploited and trafficked women: The role of the media and campaigning in women's empowerment' on 27th April was a success with a hundred people attending the forum

1st May 2012

While there has been growing awareness over the last decade as to the urgency to address trafficking for sexual exploitation, advocates in the UK have not always agreed on the most appropriate approach to tackle it. These debates are played out and amplified by media stories, backing the prevalence of dominating discourses. The conference intended to be a forum for the effectiveness of such approaches to be discussed and for their complementarities to be explored. It brought together some of the most distinguished speakers from the policy, academic and NGO fields to examine current efforts to counteract trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers.

Plenary discussions were followed by three workshops: “The use of media projects in Nicaragua to advocate for women's rights”; “Trafficking and exploitation in Southern Africa” and “Exploitation in the context of global events: examining the connections between women's exploitation and the Olympics”.

The event was put together by CAWN and Frauensolidaritäet as part of our current project, “Women’s rights, social inclusion and the media” funded by the European Commission. You can see the full programme here

You can also listen to the conference session's audio here:

1) Introduction to the day with Marilyn Thomson

2) Plenary: The exploitation spectrum: current approaches to tackle exploitation and trafficking of migrant sex workers, with Baroness Mary Goudie and Julia O'Connell Davidson

3) Plenary: Media and campaigns' representations of exploited and trafficked women, with Rutvica Andrijasevic and Sarah Jackson

4) Workshop: The use of media in Nicaragua to advocate for women's rights

5) Workshop: Trafficking and exploitation in Southern Africa: stories from the ground

6) Workshop: Global events: examining some connections between women's exploitation and the Olympics

7) Workshops' facilitators: Panel discussion

8) Plenary: Latin American exploited migrant women in the UK with Carolina Gottardo


Celebrating International Women's Day

5th March 2012

The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign has invited CAWN's supporters to celebrate International Women's Day the Nicaraguan way on Friday 9th March from 7. 30 p.m. The evening will start with a talk by Fairtrade organic coffee producer Norma Gadea Paivas, followed by a discussion, and will also feature a film and music. You can find more details here.

We hope to see you all there!

Journalist in Honduras receives repeated death threats and harassment

December 2011

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), expresses its concern for the safety and integrity of Gilda Silvestrucchi, an independent journalist and director of the radio program "The Plaza", who has recently been the target of death threats . Gilda regularly addresses controversial issues, such us mining activities in the Valley of Syria and the approval of a new Mining Act.
On 3rd January 2012, as she was going to the radio station, she was victim of a car persecution until the driver of her vehicle managed to lose their follower. On 20th January Gilda’s mother received a call where a male person asked her to provide information about Gilda's schedule including when did she arrive home, where does she spend the day, and where could he find her.

Again, on 23rd January Gilda received five phone calls on her mobile. She was told "we know that you have three children, that right now you are walking in the street with your seven years old son, and that your oldest daughter is at home looking after your youngest daughter; we'll kill you”.

Freedom of expression and the right to be informed, as enshrined in the Honduran Constitution and international law, are currently undermined by constant intimidation and attacks on journalists, which has reached intolerable levels. From 2009 to date 18 journalists have been killed, 25 have faced death threats, 14 have been illegally detained, 4 have been tortured after being kidnapped and 37 have suffered assaults and other attacks. On 14th December 2011, a demonstration of journalists was repressed by the military.

In Honduras political censorship and organized crime lead to self-censorship as the only way for journalists to stay safe in the absence of state action to sanction individuals for crimes against journalists.

COFADEH calls on the international community to publicly condemn the intimidation of journalists and to demand that the State of Honduras commits to protect them. We must call for immediate action to provide the necessary protection to Gilda Silvestrucci and her family, for an impartial investigation into the events described above, and for an investigation into the the killings of 18 journalists and other threats against journalists. Please send emails expressing your concern and demands to:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Aviles
President of the Supreme Court
Luis Alberto Rubi
Attorney General's Office. /

CAWN launches new project: Women's rights, social inclusion and the media'

15th November 2011

The Central American Women’s Network (CAWN), based in London, and Frauensolidarität – Solidarity among Women, based in Vienna, are working together on a new project launched in October 2011 which will run for three years.

We aim to increase public awareness about women’s rights and to respond to demands from woman’s organisation to strengthen communication and solidarity between women in the EU and countries in the South (in this case in Southern Africa and Central America).

We want to encourage women to make greater use of information technology for communication and the media, to support networking among women’s organisations and activists, to promote the human rights of women and women’s equality. We also aim to increase the understanding of women’s rights, globalisation and media among policy makers and the general public.  To achieve this we will organise activities such as conferences, workshops, interviews and media-interventions (print, radio and web).  We will also carry out research and produce media-interventions in order to increase the visibility of women’s  rights, which will focus on: the trafficking of women,  gender discrimination and violence against women in the labour market and the objectification and exclusion of women by mainstream media.

Through this project we aim to increase the visibility of these issues through the use of alternative media that have been shown to be an effective tool for dissemination of information and the empowerment of women.

CAWN and Frauensolidarität want to be part of the process of empowerment and so we will build the capacity of students and young activists to trigger change. We will produce in-depth policy briefings and factsheets, trainings on the use of alternative media and advocacy skills, organise public meetings with activists from Central America and Southern Africa and produce exciting radio programmes. If you want to join us please get in touch to learn more about how you can be part of it. You can email CAWN to and FS to
The project is funded by the European Commission which in its Gender Action Plan 2010-2015 states that it is committed to support capacity building of women’s organisations.


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