El Salvador

Using a ‘traffic light’ color scheme, learn about a country’s performance relative to the other focus countries for each individual SDG. Each square on a SDG line represents the performance of a country, with the selected country (i.e. El Salvador) being the larger square. Click on a country square on any SDG line to learn about the related indicators and their score!

Gender Equality Context in El Salvador

El Salvador has made significant strides to reduce poverty and inequality in recent decades. Income inequality in the country – measured by the Gini coefficient – declined by about 5 percentage points between 2007 and 2016, driven by income growth for the poorest 20%. This has made El Salvador the second most equal country in Latin America —though poverty rates remain high in rural areas.

These developments have had positive effects on girls’ and women’s health and livelihoods. Yet gender gaps persist in women’s political participation, employment, wages and financial inclusion, and other areas. High rates of violence, limited access to family planning, and the full criminalization of abortion under all circumstances (even when a woman’s life is at risk) continue to undermine women’s health and vital rights.

El Salvador has strong human rights frameworks for women and children, though implementation remains a challenge. Certain forms of discrimination against girls and women reflect significant gaps between policy and practice. The Special Comprehensive Law for a Life Free of Violence for Women was passed in 2011, but women still experience gender-based violence, as well as discrimination and hostility from authorities, especially the police and judicial system.

On average, 15 cases of sexual violence are reported in El Salvador every day mostly against young women, with statistics showing that 7 out of 10 women who experience sexual violence are under 20 years of age.

Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030
Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030

Key findings

What does the SDG Gender Index tell us about the profile of gender equality for each country?

Areas of strong performance
  • SDG 3 on health: El Salvador had the lowest maternal mortality ratio of the six focus countries in 2015, and a high percentage of women had their family planning needs met as of 2014, 82% of married women.

  • SDG 6 on water and sanitation: El Salvador had the highest proportion of people across the six countries using at least basic sanitation services, 91% (2015). It did not perform well on the indicator that measures whether WASH policies and plans have specific measures to reach women.

  • SDG 7 on energy: The vast majority of the population in El Salvador had access to electricity, 99% (2016), with a high proportion also reliant on clean fuels and technology, 86% (2016).

Areas for improvement
  • SDG 5 on gender equality: El Salvador had several weak points, especially the lack of any legal grounds for abortion as of 2017. El Salvador also has a fairly high rate of child, early and forced marriage, with 26% of girls married before the age of 18 in 2014. The country also had the lowest percentage of women who had made or received a digital payment in the last year, 18% (2017).

  • SDG 10 on inequalities: El Salvador had the lowest score on how equally political power is shared between men and women, based on experts’ perceptions in 2017. It also has the lowest score for gender equality provisions in the Constitution as of 2017.

  • SDG 16 on peace, justice and institutions: The number of women who were killed as a result of intentional homicide in El Salvador in 2016, nearly 60 times the rate in Indonesia.

Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030
Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030

Our Partner

Jessica Lomelin / Equal Measures 2030

EM2030 partner in El Salvador

Plan International El Salvador has worked nationally for more than 40 years to promote the rights of children and equality for girls. With the support of Equal Measures 2030, their project ‘Girls and women leading for gender equality,’ aims to influence the Salvadorean government to prioritise the implementation of SDG 5 for girls.

In partnership with nine organisations, as well as girls and young women themselves, Plan El Salvador is monitoring progress against SDG 5 and using data to raise awareness of issues with the national media and to promote accountability with government actors.

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