Homeownership Empowering Women in El Salvador

Land and home titles in Latin America are often in the man’s name and passed down to generations of sons. But when property rights favor males, women are stripped of economic opportunities and, at times, their safety.

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Land and home titles in Latin America are often in the man’s name and passed down to generations of sons. But when property rights favor males, women are stripped of economic opportunities and, at times, their safety.

Women are now leading households and the future.

We’re empowering women across Latin America by ensuring home titles are in their name.

Our local partners, Gente Ayudando Gente, offer families a unique land and home title consisting of a 50-50 split of property. When women have legal ownership of property, they gain opportunities to break the cycle of poverty by having collateral for credit and space to build a business.

According to the Ministry of Housing of El Salvador, women are now obtaining more land titles than men. Under the current administration, 63% of property deeds favor women. This is primarily for two reasons:

  1. Housing programs are starting to cater property rights to women since they’re typically children’s primary caretakers.
  2. More women are the head of their household or living on their own. Between 1970 and 2010, women-led households in Latin America grew from 20% to 45%.

Here’s the percentage of women-led households in some communities we’re supporting across El Salvador:

79% in San Vicente 81% in San Martín de la Bretaña89% in Nuevo Cuscatlán

Women owning property is crucial for their economic empowerment since it can serve as a foundation for income generation. In El Salvador and Mexico alone, we’ve seen more than 300 women start businesses after moving into their homes — women like Ana Patricia.

Ana Patricia turned her window into a storefront where she sells snacks, sodas, pantry items, and household items like toilet paper. The income allowed her to save money and make home expansions.

Housing inequality increases women’s vulnerabilities.

When women do not have access to adequate housing, they become more vulnerable in every aspect of life — especially their safety.

In 2018, a man killed a woman every 24 hours in El Salvador.

While many factors contribute to one of the world’s highest rates of femicide, lack of adequate housing is a primary force pushing women into vulnerable conditions.

Silvia and her daughter, Guadalupe, used to live in a makeshift home of galvanized metal with holes. Guadalupe had to send her three children to live elsewhere because her home was too dangerous. Thieves have mugged them and robbed their home multiple times, taking the little belongings they had. Silvia is ready to see her family’s life change when they move into their new home soon.

“I feel so grateful for this new home and am looking forward to feeling more secure. Here, there’s no security. We’ve had many challenges as a family as thieves take our things. We don’t have locks on our doors. We have a lot of dripping and flooding after the rains too.” — Silvia in Nuevo Cuscatlán, El Salvador

About 80% of Salvadorans live in inadequate shelter. Families with inadequate shelter often make up the informal economy and are underserved by government programs. They live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions that are inaccessible to city centers where the majority of jobs, healthcare, and community exist.

A safe home can change everything.

Helping women take ownership of their homes from the start

Before we build a home, we host a Lean Participatory Design workshop where we ask families for input on community design. We separate the women from the men during the workshop to ensure they feel safe to share their voices. For many women, this is the first time someone has asked them what they desire for their home.

Sandra was a teenager when we started building her community in Nuevo Cuscatlán. She was so invested that she started helping our construction team. Our construction manager taught her more intricate parts of the building process and hired her for another housing project. She’s now at a university getting her degree in engineering so she can help more families in need

Housing can unlock women’s potential

Donors have helped us bring safe housing to thousands of women who are making the most of their homes. Women like Ana Patricia are building their dream businesses. Girls like Sandra can grow up and pursue an education. And moms like Maria Idalia are living with more peace knowing their children are safe.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a decent house to live in with dignity, which will provide me with a better future for my children.” — Maria Idalia

Give a vulnerable woman the opportunity to become a homeowner by funding a home today. Fund a project.