CAWN carries out, publishes and disseminates research on women’s rights in Central America. We invite you to download, read and distribute our publications. The content of them may be used for educational purposes, however we ask that you cite the source and let us know when and how you are using them.


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

'Exploitation and Trafficking of Women: Critiquing narratives during the London Olympics’ has been commissioned to inform CAWN's 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 study draws up recommendations based on the experience of the London Olympics that can be applied to other forthcoming major sporting events. Trafficking and exploitation of migrant women, it argues, is a global problem requiring a
global response. Policies and actions to address this problem should be guided by the findings of evidence-based research exploring the impact of global trade agreements, structural adjustment and austerity measures, and
the labour practices of transnational corporations on women’s economic rights, migration patterns and trafficking of women.

Other languages

Portuguese: Exploração e Tráfico de Mulheres.


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


As a complement to 'Intersecting Violences' this toolkit showcases examples of NGOs in Latin America that are practically implementing intersectionality in their work on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). This resource gives continuity to the campaign process and political impact to a new perspective for the creation of public policy with a holistic and inclusive focus in order to eradicate poverty and VAWG in Latin America.



For a free copy of the CD-ROM, please contact


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


The author, Patricia Muñoz Cabrera, considers the benefits of taking an intersectional approach to the complex and interrelated web of factors contributing to poverty and VAW in Latin America. The key topics that the paper seeks to understand via this intersectional approach is why women are abused and discriminated against in Latin American societies, what the structural causes of their subjugated status are, what the relationship is between cultural, sexual, racial and economic structures and the pervasiveness of both VAW and women’s poverty, and  what the connection is between patriarchal constructions of the state and religious institutions and the particular forms of violence and poverty affecting women.

This research aims to bring together the different work that has been done on intersectionality to assist in gaining a fuller understanding of how this important tool can be maximised.

'Intersecting violences' concludes that VAW and women's poverty remains, and will continue to remain, a significant problem in Latin America. In order to challenge this and the multi-layered structural inequalities faced by women, it is necessary to consider the use of approaches that take these interlinking factors into account.

Read here the the report launch conference report.


briefing papers

Subverting Sexism: Using Socio-Dramas to Socialise in Nicaragua. May 2014

Nicaraguan feminists have recognised the potential for using television to socialise, and have created two successful telenovelas or “socio-dramas” to change cultural mores to promote gender equality. With increasingly conservative policies being brought in by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista government, the women's movement has been pushed out of political discourse. Popular culture has therefore provided a new, non-threatening, space within which to bring controversial topics about gender rights into the public space without the disapproval of the government.


Challenging Violence against Women in Honduras: Lessons from the ground.
March 2014.

Significant advances were made for women in Honduras during the 1990s,
including the passing of laws concerning domestic violence. Violence against women in private and public spheres is closely linked to poverty, unequal relations between men and women, and is compounded by racial, ethnic, cultural and sexual discrimination. This briefinf paper addressed the joint CEM-H/CAWN project aimed to combat all forms of violence against women.


Women renegotiating power paradigms in Central America: their struggles in the
second half of the 20th century.
February 2014

Since the 1960s the political landscape of Central America has changed drastically, a result of both internal revolutions and externally imposed economic restructuring. These changes facilitated the increased participation of women in public affairs. The result was a shakeup of traditional gendered power paradigms, represented by the birth of an extensive network of women’s organisations in the region, supported by solidarity organisations worldwide. CAWN aims to give a historical context of how and why this participation was able to flourish in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua during the second half of the 20th century.


Surviving as we can: Women in Informal Employment in Central America. October 2013

The majority of women in urban areas in Central America take up work in the
informal economy, whether as street vendors, domestic workers, home-based
workers or in other activities. However, when we think about employment we focus on formal jobs, rendering millions of workers invisible. This paper explores the working conditions of women in informal employment through interviews, and outlines the nature and dimensions of this economy sector.

CAWN also puts forward various recommendations to support women in the informal economy.


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

After years of advocacy warning about the potential negative impact of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America, now in the final stages of its ratification, CAWN has evaluated the final text of the trade agreement to assess to what extent our recommendations were taken on board.

CAWN welcomes the European Parliament’s Resolution on 11th December 2012 call for a specific mechanism to guarantee respect and compliance with the human rights clause in the agreement and its proposition that the Commission carry out an annual report to monitor its impact on democracy and human rights. Aware of the importance of grassroots and women’s voices CAWN demands that such monitoring exercises are conducted in consultation with civil society.


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

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, like trafficking.

In this paper, 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.


Maternal Health, Reproductive Rights and the Criminalization of Abortion in Central America. September 2012.

Women’s rights are violated in very specific ways regarding their sexual and reproductive life. Protecting these rights by law is especially important because they are connected to the private, domestic sphere, in which women’s rights are more often violated.

This paper aims to give an overview of international instruments and policy commitments to women’s reproductive rights, with special attention to reproductive health and maternal health; focusing on the situation of women’s reproductive rights in Central America and highlighting the struggles carried out by women’s and feminist organisations in the region.


Feminicidio: Un fenomeno global. De Lima a Madrid. (Femicide: A global fenomenon. From Lima to Madrid. - Spanish only) May 2010


This report, published by CAWN and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, seeks to provide an up-to-date regional perspective on the situation of femicide in Latin America. Women activists, human rights defenders, academics and civil society representatives from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, have writen these articles to share with us their struggles in tackling femicide in their countries.

The report provides an overview of the changes needed to eradicate discrimination, violence against women, femicide and in particular the impunity. It also presents different interpretations of the concept of femicide; whilst some authors stress the importance of domestic violence, others emphasise impersonal cruel killings of women by strangers, such as gangs. Others relate it to political instability -and coups- and emphasise that femicide occurs both in peacetime and in wartime. However, all agree that the origin of femicide lies in the unequal historical power relations between men and women.

The final chapter presents some of the initiatives from European civil society, like CAWN, in supporting women's organisations in Latin America. It looks into the implementation of international and EU instruments for the eradication of violence against women and femicide.


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

Lucy Ferguson presents the findings of research between 2005-2008. The research involved interviews with women workers and community and business representatives in Costa Rica, Belize and  Honduras, as well as with a wide range of actors in the tourism development domain. Ferguson draws parallels between the experiences of women in the tourism and the maquila sectors in that both sectors are characterized by high levels of female employment of a primarily exploitative nature offering few training opportunities and very limited promotion prospects. Long and unsociable hours with especially detrimental impact on women are also common to both sectors. Additional concerns linked to tourism, include sex tourism, forced displacement of local peoples and environmental damage, associated with large-scale tourism projects.


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

In this article Dr Marina Prieto-Carron examines the work burdens of women within the productive, as well as the reproductive, spheres, looking at the approach taken by the Working and Unemployed Women's Movement Maria Elena Cuadra (MEC) in understanding and addressing women's labour rights. She considers the difficulties facing women workers in Central American countries such as Nicaragua, and concludes that the holistic approach of MEC in providing women with knowledge on issues beyond labour rights per se, such as self-esteem, domestic violence and economic literacy, produces positive changes in the lives of these women and those around them.


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


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

research on VAW This publication identifies seven different approaches that international aid agencies have adopted in response to tackling violence against women (VAW) in Honduras.

Despite international commitments to eliminate VAW, accessing resources for this work has becoming increasingly difficult. In Central America, there is increasing concern that the current poverty alleviation programme is taking donor attention and funding away from the region’s ‘lower middle-income’ countries, where gender discrimination, unequal concentration of wealth, exploitative power relations, and VAW are very significant.

Many aid agencies do not disaggregate their budget by gender-related programmes let alone gender equality, women’s projects or programmes combating VAW. Gender mainstreaming may in fact contribute to agencies not gender budgeting and makes it difficult to know whether enough resources are allocated for VAW work. Although the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) promote rights-based approaches and have gender equality as their third goal, VAW is not directly addressed and therefore seems to get lost in formal development frameworks, instruments, indicators and reporting mechanisms.


Economy Literacy: a tool for women's empowerment in Nicaragua. October 2008


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


electronic bulletin

For updated information on news, international conferences, events and other publications related to women's rights and the Central American region, please sign up to to receive this free electronic bulletin that circulates every quarter.






a-gendaCAWN's A-Genda is a bulletin on gender and trade issues in Central America. Electronic copies can be downloaded from this website. Alternatively, if you would like to receive a printed copy please contact us.

A-Genda, June 2008

A-Genda, October 2007

A-Genda, April 2007

A-Genda, December 2006

A-Genda, March 2006

newsletter archive

CAWN's 20th Anniversary Newsletter

Download a copy of CAWN's special 20th Anniversary edition newsletter. The newsletter looks at the origins of CAWN after the revolutionary movements in Nicaragua, our acheivements in supporting women in Central America in their struggles to eliminate violence against women and impunity for femicide and to improve women's labour rights, and the wonderful women in Central America who we have been working alongside and who have inspired us over the last 20 years.


CAWN Newsletter includes articles written by volunteers, supporters, staff and organisations in Central America. It includes reports on important events in the region, and a variety of themes related to women’s rights and violence against women.

Spring 2009

Autumn 2007

Spring 2007

Autumn 2006

Autumn 2005

Spring 2005




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

The UK Gender and Development Network (GADN), of which CAWN is a member, has published this booklet in commemoration of the 16 days of activism 2010, for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.



Organisation profile: Central America Women's Network (CAWN)
By Katherine Ronderos and Liz Cooke

Gender & Development, Oxfam Journal, Vol 18, No. 1. March 2010

"In this issue's organisation profile, we look at the Central America Women's Network. This UK-based organisation work in both Central America and in Europe to strengthen and promote the rights of Central American women, with partnsership at the core of their strategy."

Click here to see article link


No more killings! Women respond to femicides in Central America
By Marina Prieto-Carrón, Marilyn Thomson, and Mandy Macdonald.
Gender & Development, Oxfam Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, March 2007

This article looks at a specific form of social violence against women in Mexico and Central America, the violent murder of women - femicidio or feminicidio in Spanish, ‘femicide’ in English. We explore the nature of femicide by analysing the situation from a gender perspective, as an extreme form of gender-based violence (GBV), and linking femicides with discrimination, poverty and a ‘backlash’ against women. In a climate of total state impunity, it is extremely important to support the responses of feminists and women’s organisations in the region who are carrying out research to document femicides and GBV in general, supporting survivors and their families, and carrying out advocacy activities.

download the full article (PDF)

research archive

AAThe Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America: Its potential impact on women's lives in Central America. October 2007

In light of the negotiations for an Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Central America, CAWN commissioned a study to highlight the main areas in which free trade agreements impact on the lives of women in the region. The study finds that unless there is a drastic change in both the process and priorities of the negotiations, an AA between the EU and Central America will deepen existing poverty and inequality in the region and impact particularly on women, further limiting their opportunities for dignified work and increasing their responsibilities.

download the full report (PDF)

annex 1 (PDF)


AAGender Perspectives and Women's Action on the Central America Free Trade Agreement. March 2005


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