Gloria Steinem, in a new episode of the Viceland TV series “WOMAN” to be broadcast on 14 June (10pm ET/9pm CT), takes an unflinching look at gender-based violence in El Salvador, the country with the highest murder rate in the world.
In El Salvador, a woman is murdered every 15 hours. Often they are killed in a vicious manner, their bodies mutilated and tortured solely to inflict pain. Ending a relationship, seeking a divorce or even getting married are all reasons why women are murdered in El Salvador. The men who carry out these murders know they will probably get away with it.
Thanks to the work of feminists such as those at ORMUSA – the Organization of Salvadoran Women – change is coming to El Salvador. ORMUSA helped draft a law that came into effect in 2012 making femicide –the deliberate murder of women just because they are women – a criminal category in El Salvador and establishing special provisions to protect women from gender-based violence. But despite legal protections, 75% of femicide cases still end up never being prosecuted.
“The law is fine, but the ones who have to implement it are the ones who have to change,” according to Silvia Juárez, one of the law’s drafters, a lawyer and an activist with ORMUSA, who features in “WOMAN”. “We still have a lot to do in order to move forward and finally eradicate violence against women.”
ORMUSA is one of 14 women’s rights activist organizations that are being partnered by Donor Direct Action, a new project that raises funds and visibility in the USA for front line activists in developing countries to combat the oppression women face around the world. From Afghanistan to El Salvador, Nepal to DRC, in Syria and Libya, these organizations are part of the global effort to end violence and discrimination against women.
Gloria Steinem, the host and executive producer of “WOMAN” and co-chair of Donor Direct Action, points out that there is a link between global instability and violence against women. “The greatest indicator of the world’s stability, wealth and safety is the status of women,” she says in the show’s introduction. We know “that the well being of women determines the well being of society.”
The eight-part Viceland television series encourages viewers to take action after watching each episode such as by contributing money to help the organizations fighting women’s oppression that feature in the show. In the episode on femicide in El Salvador, this organization is ORMUSA and contributions to support their work can be made through their US tax-exempt partner organization, Donor Direct Action www.donordirectaction.org.
The need is great: only a tiny fraction of official government aid goes directly to women’s rights organizations and even that small amount is decreasing. The majority of women’s organizations have very small budgets, often less than $25,000 a year, according to the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). Such limited access to funding weakens women’s organizations and impedes their ability to sustain their impact. By partnering with Donor Direct Action, front line women’s rights activists have greater access to individual donors around the world who can support their work through online contributions.
Donor Direct Action is a project of The Sisterhood is Global Institute.