Spotlight On…. Social Watch El Salvador

In this edition of Spotlight On… we will travel to Central America, where the national Social Watch coalition in El Salvador has succeeded in monitoring economic, social and gender rights in the country from diverse perspectives.

El Salvador, a small Central American country with almost 6 million inhabitants, confronts many political and economic challenges, such as overpopulation, a weak industrial base, and the consequences of a 12 year long civil war which ended just two decades ago.  One year ago, for the first time in the country´s history, a center-left government led by journalist Mauricio Funes came to power, thus inheriting the obligation to promote the development of the country, and in particular fulfil the development commitments made in the context of the UN system, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Social Watch El Salvador, a diverse group of NGOs with presence in the entire country, has inherited the commitment to monitor the government´s compliance with these obligations, a task that it has carried out since 1995, when it became a founding member of the Social Watch (SW) global network.

The organizations that currently form part of Social Watch El Salvador are: la Asociación Intersectorial para el Desarrollo Económico y el Progreso Social (CIDEP), Acción para la Salud (APSAL), Consorcio de Organizaciones de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador, Fundación Maquilishuat (FUMA), y Movimiento Estudiantil Cristiano (MEC).  These Salvadoran civil society organizations have different thematic focuses, such as education, health care, gender issues, and human rights, which allows SW El Salvador to offer a comprehensive view on the issues that it writes about for the international SW Report.

In addition to writing national reports for all of the global editions of the Report and organizing local launch events of the publication each year, SW El Salvador also is spearheading a campaign to disseminate the contents of the MDGs, through citizen consciousness-raising activities and advocacy work.  The objectives of this campaign include the dissemination of the MDGs and the raising of awareness among the Salvadoran population of the importance of their fulfilment; the promotion of broad-based participation in the policies that will lead to compliance with the MDGs; and the development of strategies to demand the fulfilment of the MDGs by the local, state and national government.  This campaign has allowed the members of SW El Salvador to strengthen their ties not only with other like-minded civil society organizations, but also with academics and international organizations such as the UNDP.

Beyond its work on a national level, CIDEP and the other organizations that make up SW El Salvador have played an important role in promoting the network in Central America and Latin America in general.  The Salvadoran coalition has participated actively in several SW capacity-building workshops, opened the way for the membership of new organizations in the SW network in countries such as Guatemala and Costa Rica, and has coordinated the production of publications with other national SW coalitions in the region.  This year, SW El Salvador contributed an article on the rights of Salvadoran women for the new SW Occasional Paper, titled Beijing and Beyond: Putting Gender Economics at the Forefront, 15 Years after the IV World Conference on Women, which will be launched at the next meeting in New York of the Commission on the Status of Women of the UN.  SW El Salvador will also participate this year in the network´s efforts related to the MDG+10 Summit and will attend the capacity-building workshop for SW Latin America which will be held in La Paz, Bolivia.

For more information on Social Watch El Salvador, see: (in Spanish)