Better Jobs for Central American Women: Labour Market Dynamics in Nicaragua and El Salvador

Women in El Salvador and Nicaragua are participating in the labour market more than ever before. However, their participation rate remains lower than men's. They tend to be overrepresented in jobs with low productivity, no social protection, and no labour law coverage. More than 60% of women work in such jobs.

This research project will assess whether economic growth has created jobs for women in Central America. It will also lay the groundwork for policies needed to create more and better jobs for women.

Policymakers in Nicaragua and El Salvador have made efforts to increase labour market opportunities for women and improve job quality. The Government of Nicaragua passed the Law of Equality of Rights and Opportunities. It established a micro lending program for women entrepreneurs. The Ministry of Labour also implemented a program to promote self-employment and to provide technical and marketing skills to potential women entrepreneurs. In El Salvador, the government passed the Law of Equality, Fairness, and Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Despite these efforts, little evidence exists to shed light on whether these policies are achieving their intended results. This project aims to provide evidence that will improve the effectiveness of current policies in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The research will also allow policymakers to design new policies aimed at creating more quality jobs for women.

The Fundación Internacional para el Desafío Económico Global (FIDEG) in Nicaragua is partnering with Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarollo Económico y Social (FUSADES) in El Salvador to carry out this research. The project is expected to enhance local research capacity through mentoring and training. It will also aim to:

  • produce a research paper examining male and female labour market dynamics;
  • prepare a comparative analysis of labour market dynamics in El Salvador and Nicaragua;
  • create short versions of each paper to inform and guide policymakers;
  • strengthen local labour market research capacity in Central America; and,
  • enhance the quality of the debate on how to improve jobs for women through active communications.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

End Date

Sunday, May 31, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Robino, Carolina

Total funding

CA$ 289,500


Nicaragua, North and Central America, El Salvador, South America


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Enrique Alaniz

Project Leader

Alejandro Ernesto Martínez Cuenca


Fundación Internacional para el Desafío Económico Global (FIDEG)

Institution Country


Institution Website