• Over half of 789 women who participated in a case management program implemented by the IRC in northern Central America reported experiencing psychological violence.
  • Economic and physical violence were the second and third most common types of gender-based violence cases identified by the IRC.
  • In El Salvador, in particular, sexual violence made it to the top three causes, with 18% of the cases.

Gender-based violence represents one of the main challenges for women in northern Central America, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned after analyzing data collected during 2022 in the region.

The IRC analyzed information provided by 789 women who have participated in a case management program implemented in northern Central America, which is funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). Based on the data collected from July 2021 to October 2022, the IRC identified that: 

Meg Galas, Director for Northern Central America at the IRC, said:

“Being a woman or a girl in Central America is to be at risk of experiencing violence, at home or on the streets. Gender-based violence, however, is not the only danger that women encounter in our countries: every day they have to navigate the insecurity originated by non-state armed groups while they try to find ways to cover their most basic needs.

“The majority of gender-based violence survivors experience multiple types throughout their lives and one of the biggest challenges is the normalization–we need to empower survivors to identify it on their road to healing. Addressing gender-based violence in Central America requires a survivor centered, strengths based and healing education response–evidence shows that this is the most effective way to support survivors to regain control over their lives and prosper. Support and resources from the international community have been essential to fund programs that offer protection for women in the region. There is no end in sight to the crisis affecting our countries and more support is required to create programs that offer solutions to the most urgent needs of people, while addressing the crisis in the long-term.”

Reaching Out for Support

The IRC also analyzed information provided by women who reached out to CuéntaNos moderators for support. Cuéntanos—part of the global Signpost project and powered by Zendesk—provides people with access to trustworthy and up-to-date information, as well as service-mapping and access to two-way communication with trained moderators who can provide support and follow-up on people’s cases. 

Based on the information of 476 cases related to gender-based violence supported between January and October 2022 in northern Central America, the IRC identified that psychological violence was also the most common type experienced by women reaching out for support—representing 60% of the cases—while physical violence affected 19% of them and sexual violence 11%.

The IRC’s Response in Northern Central America 

Currently, the IRC serves individuals and families in vulnerable situations or at increased risk for violence and displacement, including internally displaced individuals, returnees, women, girls, youth, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are survivors of gender-based violence. The IRC’s programming includes multi-purpose cash transfers to satisfy basic needs; the creation of safe spaces for women, youth and the LGBTQ+ community; case management and psychosocial support; and CuéntaNos, a digital platform--part of the Global Signpost project--to provide people with critical, up-to-date information and two-way communication and support with trained moderators.