Violence against women and girls drives migration from Central America

Learn more about Ioanna Papas.
Ioanna Papas
Director, Communications
George W. Bush Institute

The Bush Institute and Wilson Center’s Latin American Program hosted a virtual conversation in early June

Gender-based violence remains one of the most significant yet overlooked drivers of out migration across Central America and the broader region. It’s often excluded from conversations on the nexus of Central American migration, regional development, and domestic immigration reform.

Over the last half-century, topics such as economic empowerment, democracy, transparency, and security have dominated the root-causes conversation. The aim of these investments is to improve the overall stability and well-being of countries and communities in the region, but their effectiveness is limited by a failure to consider the impacts of gender-based violence on social and systemwide challenges. 

Though there’s been increased focus from U.S. and international influencers on violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and its impact on migration, a response to the gendered differences remains limited and at times nonexistent. As the United States and the international community consider a comprehensive plan on Central America and immigration reform, proposed strategies must anchor the status and safety of women and girls at the center of solutions.

The George W. Bush Institute and the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program discussed the violations of agency and human rights perpetuated against women and girls and policies to respond to the instability and migration.