Our work in El Salvador
NIMD’s work in El Salvador started in 2012. Since then, the programme has focused on promoting the inclusion of underrepresented groups (particularly women and youth); supporting environmental and fiscal reforms; and improving linkages between local, national and regional political institutions.
NIMD wants to support effective women politicians (both at the local and national level) by building their capacities through multiparty intensive training courses. We also address the unwritten rules and practices that exclude women from participating in the political arena in the first place by conducting research on how to overcome these barriers; training parties on gender-sensitive policy and legislation; supporting the work of the Parliamentary Women’s group; and training journalists on how to avoid gender bias in their reporting.
As part of this work, NIMD is proud to have contributed to drafting the National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in El Salvador, in collaboration with UN Women and Cordaid, and with the support of the Group of Friends of the R1325.
In 2014, NIMD established a Democracy School to help young people from all El Salvador’s political parties prepare for their careers. Each year, the school provides a learning environment for 30 young leaders. The curriculum comprises 11 one-day training courses, in which the students will explore topics such as negotiation and dialogue, communications and political marketing, citizenship and democracy.
In addition to practicing democratic skills, the participants discuss democratic culture and values. Based on a special request, youth civil society organizations’ members are also receiving training through the El Salvador programme.
Lastly, NIMD supported the establishment of a Parliamentary Youth Caucus in 2018, by a former NIMD Democracy School student. The caucus brings together young parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to promote initiatives to benefit El Salvador’s youth. These include the Law for supporting Youth Entrepreneurship and a bill against sexual assault against children and teenagers.
NIMD facilitates dialogue between civil society and political actors on issues related to the country’s future. For example, NIMD is supporting ongoing dialogue on possible electoral, fiscal, and environmental reforms. The dialogue participants come from local, national and regional bodies.
Through our work in El Salvador, NIMD aims to strengthen the capacities of local and national democratic institutions such as the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and municipal councils.
For example, reforms implemented in 2015 saw that municipal councils would be decided by proportional, not majoritarian, means. This meant councils became populated by multiple parties, as opposed to just one. As the reforms was adopted, NIMD supported the councils with various measures to avoid polarization and maintain dialogue and good relations between the parties. This support comes in the form of training, provision of tools, and following recommendations from the EU Electoral Mission.
NIMD conducted several projects to support the 2019 electoral campaign. One way we did this was by connecting civil society organizations with presidential candidates directly, allowing for inclusive dialogue.
A separate activity was undertaken to account for the move to social media during elections. Since the Supreme Electoral Tribunal did not have the capacity to regulate the debate on social media, NIMD undertook a study to understand how the electoral campaign was unfolding on social media. Feeding back the results to the Tribunal has given it the information it needs to oversee future electoral campaigns.
In addition, NIMD launched a number of social media campaigns of our own during the electoral period. Noting the rise of fake news across social media in the lead up to the elections, NIMD ran a campaign designed to help the public access and identify unbiased information, and avoid fake news. Other campaigns were also run on areas such as women’s fair participation and youth inclusion.
Although El Salvador’s economy has steadily grown over the past decade, a large proportion of the country’s population continues to live in poverty, and employment levels remain low. As is often the case, young people and women are particularly vulnerable to the socioeconomic situation. Public dissatisfaction and disengagement from the political process in the run-up to the 2019 presidential elections opened space for new political allegiances, with the result ending the historic two-party dominance in El Salvador with the election of outsider Nayib Bukele. Yet corruption remains a massive issue and the relatively new administration has not yet proven they can fully deliver democracy in El Salvador.