Rights and Dignity Project
Collaborating with civil society, the private sector, academia, and government entities to promote and protect the human rights of all Salvadorans, especially members of vulnerable groups.
Promoting justice, equity, and inclusion as foundational to El Salvador’s prosperity, security, and good governance.
San Salvador and 16 municipalities, with unique methods and approaches for each.
Building the skills and capacities of human rights organizations to advocate, monitor, and collaborate with the government, and enhancing the government’s ability to meet its human rights commitments.
Since the end of its civil war in 1992, El Salvador has worked to establish and maintain systems that protect and promote the human rights of its citizens. While the country has made encouraging progress, such as creating the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and the National Civilian Police, significant challenges remain. Amid high levels of violence and a cycle of impunity, the government is striving to strike a balance between containing a domestic security crisis, maintaining democratic spaces, and protecting the human rights of all citizens. Meanwhile, Salvadorans live and work in an environment marked by chronic violence, discrimination, and increasing abuse at the hands of security agents.
Despite challenges, El Salvador has an engaged civil society and a government willing to work to promote and protect human rights. The Rights and Dignity Project brings together governmental and non-governmental actors to collaborate on strengthening human rights protection systems in order to achieve a more equitable, just, and tolerant El Salvador. In pursuit of this goal, the Project enhances El Salvador’s human rights systems with an emphasis on security, policing, and anti-discrimination through three objectives:
Increase constructive engagement among governmental and non-governmental actors to improve the state of human rights;
Increase effectiveness of Human Rights Organization (HROs) to advocate for justice in the security sector and improve the ability for the government to respond; and
Reduce discrimination against vulnerable groups and improve access to services for victims of human rights abuses.
To realize these objectives, the Project is focusing its efforts on the following four population groups: women who are victims of social violence, youth, the LGBTI community, and people with disabilities.
The Rights & Dignity Project promotes the development of an integrated network of human rights actors from the government, civil society, the private sector, and academia. To maximize this network’s impact, the Project is working to:
Strengthen the rights to life, integrity, freedom, and a life free of discrimination and violence in the public security and justice sectors by:
Developing a Collaborative Roadmap for Inclusion and Human Rights that captures priority action items to improve the human rights situation of the four vulnerable populations.
Awarding grants to human rights organizations to implement the Collaborative Roadmap action items and pursue advocacy activities related to effective policing, prison reform, and access to justice.
Supporting government institutions to promote inclusive policies and pursue transitional justice.
Guarantee access to information and data on human rights in El Salvador by:
Creating a national human rights observatory to collect, produce, and disseminate information and data related to human rights in El Salvador and serve as a resource for advocates.
Promote public policies and good practices to address discrimination of the four prioritized populations through:
Building the capacities of human rights organizations to engage and participate in regional and international human rights systems, not only enhancing their abilities but also increasing global awareness and understanding of the state of human rights in El Salvador.
Providing capacity building and technical assistance to security sector entities, building their understanding of, and capacities to adhere to, international human rights standards.
With support from the Rights & Dignity project, local partner AMATE El Salvador strengthened its institutional capacity and became a direct recipient of donor funding:
Counterpart’s Rights and Dignity Project is a five-year initiative implemented in partnership with local organization Partners El Salvador. The project seeks to strengthen governmental and non-governmental human rights protection systems, resulting in an increasingly tolerant, just, and equitable El Salvador. In its efforts to realize this goal, Counterpart has successfully integrated and applied an Organizational Development (OD) component, under which we’ve seen a nascent LGBTIQ+ organization transform into a direct recipient of international donor funding while cascading the OD methodology to a next generation of LGBTIQ+ collectives.
When mapping Salvadoran civil society, the project found many local civil society organizations lacked the internal governance and infrastructure to receive funding directly from donors. One of these organizations was the Center for Studies of Sexual and Generic Diversity (AMATE) El Salvador, an LGBTIQ+ organization that quickly became an active project partner and engaged participant in Counterpart’s OD lifecycle. Although AMATE had successfully conducted activities since 2013, the organization had generally weak administrative, financial, communications, and human resources processes, and lacked an official registration of its accounting system, preventing it from receiving funding directly from both international and local donors. “We were having problems with internal processes, we didn’t have well-established policies, and we needed someone to help us organize ourselves,” said Ester Flores, AMATE’s public relations and communications secretary.
Under its OD component, the project engaged AMATE and other Salvadoran human rights organizations to build their capacities across six functional pillars: Leadership and Strategic Planning; Program and Project Management; Financial Administration and Accounting; Financial Sustainability; Human Resources; and Communications/External Relations.Through Counterpart’s OD methodology, including a baseline assessment across the six pillars, action planning to address pain points, an in-kind grant, and project-delivered trainings, coaching, and direct support, AMATE transformed into a stronger, more sustainable organization that can pursue its goal of positively impacting lives. Most significantly, AMATE secured its legal registration of its accounting system, developed a knowledge management policy, established sound accounting management and obtained accounting software, and created a financial sustainability plan and financial obligations guide, exceeding 11 of the 12 indicators in its OD action plan.
With improved internal operations, AMATE can now more effectively implement its projects and achieve greater social impact. Moreover, “This certainly strengthened us and helped us to become more attractive to donors,” notes Karla Castro, Secretary General of AMATE. By applying its new skills and strategies, AMATE applied for and received a direct grant from an international donor to implement the project “Inclusion, Development, and Identity,” which involves replicating the OD methodology with LGBTIQ+ collectives in San Miguel.
Through its engagement with the project, AMATE has not only gone on to receive direct donor funding, but also benefited 500 people by sharing its OD learnings from the project. “In addition to helping us in all our processes, we have learned the value of making difficult decisions, good planning, and constant communications, which are essential elements for organizations to function in a better way,” said Roberto Zapata, AMATE’s secretary of finance and political advocacy.