Costa Rica: Leaving no woman behind during the COVID-19 pandemic


UN Trust Fund grantee CENDEROS leaving no woman behind during the COVID-19 pandemic
"Bingo of No Violence" - an activity held by CENDEROS in commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Women (25 November, 2019). Courtesy of CENDEROS.

“Women at risk of femicide have no alternatives… Without economic resources, long distances and transportation difficulties, their only option is to stay with the aggressor.” – Adilia Solís, President at CENDEROS.

Backed by a small grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), the Centre for the Social Rights of Migrants[1] (CENDEROS) is leading a project in two districts of Upala canton in Costa Rica to support Nicaraguan refugee women and girls who are at risk of or have experienced gender-based violence.

As the global pandemic wears on in neighboring Nicaragua, xenophobia, racism and other forms of violence targeting migrants and refugees started to rise at an alarming rate. The project is facing mounting challenges because COVID-19 has led to restrictions on movement, growing poverty and loss of support services, a toxic combination that has hugely increased violence against women and girls.

UN Trust Fund grantee CENDEROS leaving no woman behind during the COVID-19 pandemic in Costa Rica
CENDEROS officials in dialogue with women refugee applicants. Courtesy of CENDEROS.

Adilia Solís, President at CENDEROS, said:

“The stay-at-home order is a higher risk factor for women when they have to live with their aggressor. [They do not have] much margin to go out and report [hence] calls to the hotline have not gone up, so the authorities have assumed that violence against women is not a problem.”

In response, CENDEROS is building community support that focuses on three main areas – prevention, care and monitoring – to ensure that women asylum-seekers, migrants and cross-border inhabitants can still access information and support services. This includes:

  • continuing to inform women and girls about their rights;
  • providing referrals to specialized services and networks for psychological and financial support, including remote or online income-generating activities;
  • notifying the community about COVID-19 and its impact on gender-based violence;
  • establishing community support groups[2] through which women can safely report violence and discrimination, and seek help directly from CENDEROS; and
  • working with local governments and emergency commissions to prevent and respond to violence and discrimination against refugee women and girls.
UN Trust Fund grantee CENDEROS leaving no woman behind during the COVID-19 pandemic in Costa Rica
"Living without Violence is my Right". Courtesy of CENDEROS.

“The challenges faced by CENDEROS unfortunately echo those faced by a majority of CSOs and service providers around the world,” shared Fiona Dalmier, Portfolio Manager at the UN Trust Fund, “This reality has been a catalyst for the alarming global increase of violence against women and girls, a pandemic that never spares those furthest left behind.”

The UN Trust Fund’s latest assessment showed that COVID-19 has exposed a lack of sustainable and structural support around the world for ending violence against women and girls while economic insecurity and movement restrictions continue to drive the increased violence. It also showed that front line civil society and women’s rights organizations such as CENDEROS urgently need greater recognition and support to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind in the pandemic.


[1] In Spanish: Fundación Centro de Derechos Sociales de la Persona Migrante

[2] “círculos de palabra” or “word circles”