After 10 months of the Sandinista government’s “restructuring period,” the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECI) has decided to cut all funding for the Nicaraguan Institute for Women, prematurely ending a three-year, $1 million program to promote gender equality in government and public policy.
The decision, according to María Soler, AECI’s head of gender issues for Nicaragua, comes after months of frustration trying to work with a government that she claims doesn’t appear to be interested in women’s rights or continuing programs started by the previous government.
The issue of gender, Soler says, is “complicated” in a country that recently outlawed therapeutic abortion and where “the rights of women are being violated.”
Soler said the Spanish cooperation agency agreed to fund the three-year program by the Nicaraguan Institute for Women in 2005, but that the current government hasn’t shown a commitment to continuing the program or even the women’s institute, which has gone through three directors so far this year. Each new director, Soler says, has come in with a new vision and a new mission for the women’s institute, leading to a situation of “serious paralysis.”
Soler says the Spanish cooperation agency has repeatedly asked the government for a budget proposal to continue the project, but since there has been no response in 10 months, the Spanish cooperation agency has decided to pull out of the program.
The remaining funding earmarked for the program is around $700,000, which the Spanish government will now redirect to non-governmental organizations that are working on gender and rights issues in Nicaragua.
The Spanish cooperation agency is also funding a gender program with the Ministry of the Interior, which Soler says is going smoother, and several other sexual-health programs in other parts of the country.
Spain is now the second country to withdraw some of its funding for the new Sandinista government, and the first to do so for political reasons.
Leaders of the feminist movement here claim that First Lady Rosario Murillo has a personal vendetta against the women’s movement for supporting her daughter’s sex abuse allegations against Daniel Ortega in 1998 (NT, Aug. 24).