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Nicaraguan women’s rights: have taken significant steps

One of the major developments was passing the law that required political parties to include an equal number of men and women in their lists of candidates for popular election.


Yanet Llanes Alemán


The Central American nation enjoys a modern legal framework that acknowledges the protection of women’s rights, and allows them to combat discrimination against women in various fields.

One of the major developments was passing the law that required political parties to include an equal number of men and women in their lists of candidates for popular election. “Political empowerment would not be possible if equal conditions did not exist in the economic field”, said Marcia Ramírez, Minister of Family, Adolescence and Children.

Since the beginning of President Daniel Ortega’s administration in 2007, the government has promoted gender-focused socio-productive programs, which benefit thousands of Nicaraguan women.

Granting ownership titles for women, single mothers and heads of households responds to the governmental plans to restore their human rights.

Women participate and are the main protagonists in programmes such as the Zero Usury (a microcredit programme for small businesses), and Zero Hunger (which promotes food production) that allow women, mainly in the most impoverished households, to strengthen their role as breadwinner.

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the female participation rate in the country’s economic activity increased from 43 to 48 per cent in 2017.

Hilaria Salinas, President of Nicaragua’s Businesswomen’s Network, states that “Micro, small and medium-sized businesses generate 80% of jobs and 40% of the Gross Domestic Product of Nicaragua, and in this sector of the economy, women’s work takes precedence”.

For example, according to Mara Stotti from the Nicaragua Tourism Institute, women run 53% of businesses within the tourism sector.

Improvements and challenges

Women’s health is a priority for the Nicaraguan government, demonstrated by the achievements obtained during the last decade, confirmed Sonia Castro the Minister of Health.

The public health system improved the population’s health particularly for women, through programmes like Casas maternas (maternal waiting houses), which helped 69,000 pregnant women last year. The effectiveness of this project led to several recognitions for Nicaragua for its community health model, and for reducing maternal mortality from 92 deaths to 38.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in the last 11 years.

The results of the system also include the increase in family planning methods, as well as care for the elderly, disabled or women with chronic illnesses.

According to the Minister of Health, one of the political achievements is the infant mortality rate of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, which was almost triple that number in 2007.

With regard to gender equity, Nicaragua is in sixth place internationally, as stated in a recent report by the World Economic Forum.

For the first time Managua closed more than 80 per cent of the equity gap, and achieved equality between women and men in ministerial posts in three years. The nation has furthermore been ranked fifth in the world in its proportion of women in parliament, with 46% of politicians being women.

Rosario Murillo the Nicaraguan Vice-president confirmed that one of the main challenges in the fight to restore balance is to reduce gender-based violence.

“We have made progress in the institutional field”, she assured, “but we still have significant challenges, especially in the cultural area.”

Murillo speaks out against the everyday use of discriminatory language and expressions. Unfortunately, there are still traits of the macho culture, in families, couples, communities and regions, taking place in intimate circles, relationships and work, social and political environments, says Murillo. (PL)

(Translated by Natalie Clark – Email: –  Photos: Pixabay

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