Because of social, economic and educational inequalities that persist in Salvadoran society today, not all women are able to obtain quality jobs that allow them to generate income and enjoy a decent life.
This can be seen by looking at findings from the 2019 Household and Multiple Purposes Report of El Salvador, which states that among Salvadorans, 54.4% of women and 45.6% of men are fit to work, meaning women quantify the largest population group capable of working.
However, when delving deeper into this 54.4%, it is found that only 41 out of 100 women are able to offer their work to the labor market. Thus the remaining 53 are not able to work and instead must carry out another activity, like homemaking, that does not generate income. On the other hand, of every 100 men, 59 are able to offer some type of work; a difference of 18 people. In other words, being a woman in El Salvador is not synonymous with employment and income, especially in comparison to men.
The inequality between men and women is also visible when looking at average wages, in comparison to the cost of basic food needs for a month. The national average monthly salary for men in 2019 was $355.89, whereas for women it was $293.48… a $62.41 difference. Then, when looking at the average price of basic food for a month for a family of four, which was $361.26 in 2019, it becomes clear that even for women who work and earn an average wage, there is no guarantee for accessing basic food at home.
One of the contributing factors to the difference in wages is the different types of jobs that men and women have. For example, women work as service workers and as shop/market vendors more than any other occupation. Almost half of all women who work are employed in this sector, compared to just 18.9% of men.
Low income and job instability plague this sector of employment, making it one of the most vulnerable areas of work in the Salvadoran economy. Because of the volatile nature of this work, most women are especially susceptible to fluctuations in income. Global crises, like COVID-19, have caused a steep decline in the use of informal shops and markets, and as a result many women have lost their sole source of income.
At Programa Velasco, we recognize that this reality is dynamic and complex, especially in the communities we work among. In addition to employment, there are other problems, such as unequal access to quality education or gender violence, which women are disproportionately subject to. However, we know that women are resilient and we believe that women deserve access to programs that provide opportunities to overcome these inequalities.
Today, more than ever, working for women’s rights is important and at Programa Velasco we can only continue our work with your help. Please, join us on July 15th, in making a donation of any amount to keep educating and empowering Salvadoran women entrepreneurs, who uphold the most vulnerable sector of our economy.