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Central America

Violent Conflict and the Transformation of Social Capital: Lessons from Cambodia, Rwanda, Guatemala, and Somalia


Colletta, Nat J., and Michelle L. Cullen. 2000. Violent Conflict and the Transformation of Social Capital: Lessons from Cambodia, Rwanda, Guatemala, and Somalia. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Authors: Nat J. Colletta, Michelle L. Cullen


Violent Conflict and the Transformation of Social Capital is an attempt to better understand the interactions between armed conflict and social capital. The World Bank's Post-Conflict Unit (PCU) undertook an investigation of four conflict-effected countries and their changing social capital dynamics. The initial phase examined Cambodia and Rwanda as case studies and the second phase studied social capital transformations and conflict in Guatemala and Somalia. Based on the four-country project, this book discusses: changes in social capital due to conditions of conflict; the interaction between social capital and conflict; and methods for civil society, government, and international actors to nurture social capital for conflict prevention rehabilitation and reconciliation measures. The types of conflict experienced, definitions and indicators of social capital, and study conclusions are compared. In the final section, recommendations for social policy and practices emerging from these studies are presented. Violent Conflict and the Transformation of Social Capital is an invaluable resource for policy and operational specialists working in conflict-effected countries. (Amazon)

Keywords: conflict, reconstruction, social capital, civil society, conflict prevention, affirmative action

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Americas, Central America, South America, Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda, Somalia

Year: 2000

The Psychological and Medical Sequelae of War in Central American Refugee Mothers and Children


Locke, Catherine J., Karen Southwick, Lauren A. McCloskey, and Maria Eugenia Fernández-Esquer. 1996. "The Psychological and Medical Sequelae of War in Central American Refugee Mothers and Children." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 150 (8): 822-28.

Authors: Catherine. J. Locke, Karen Southwick, Lauren. A. McCloskey, Maria Eugenia Fernández-Esquer


Objective: To investigate the physical and mainly psychological sequelae of exposure to war in Central American children and their mothers who immigrated to the United States on average 4 years before the study began.

Design: Interview study.

Participants: Twenty-two immigrant Central American women caretakers and 1 of their children aged 5 to 13 years.

Main Outcome Measures: Standardized and new measures were administered to assess children's physical and mental health symptoms and exposure to political violence.

Results: Eighteen of the 22 children had chronic health problems. Fifteen children and all of the adults had observed traumatic events, including bombings and homicides. Thirteen of the children showed mental health symptom profiles above established norms, although only 2 met the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder according to their own reports. Many of the caretakers were unaware of their child's psychological distress. Four of the mothers exhibited posttraumatic stress disorder, and their symptoms predicted their child's mental health.

Conclusions: Pediatricians are sometimes the first and only contacts these families have with health care providers. Caretakers' reports of children's mental health are often incomplete. It is therefore important for physicians to probe for "hidden" symptoms in refugee children. These family members may need referrals to social and psychological services, and pediatricians can open the gates to existing community networks of support. Because we found that maternal mental health influences the child's, the child's interests are well served when pediatricians also encourage the mother to contact services for herself if she confides that she is experiencing some of the severe psychological sequelae reported by the women in this study.

Keywords: female refugees, refugee children, mental health, trauma

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America

Year: 1996

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Salvadoran Women: Empirical Evidence and Description of Treatment


Bowen, Deborah J., Lisa Carscadden, Kate Beighle, and India Fleming. 1992. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Salvadoran Women: Empirical Evidence and Description of Treatment." Women & Therapy 13 (3): 267-280.

Authors: Deborah J. Bowen, Lisa Carscadden, Kate Beighle, India Fleming


Previous research has documented post-traumatic stress disorder among Salvadoran refugees in this country, but information on refugees living in El Salvador is not available. This study investigated the patterns of psychological distress and documented the existence of PTSD in Salvadoran refugee women in El Salvador. A team of U.S. mental health workers traveled to a refugee camp in El Salvador to interviewwomen about their traumatic experiences and current symptoms of distress. This study provides strongevidence that many refugee women in El Salvador have developed PTSD and that many others show significant signs of distress. Data from this study also provided insight into clinical issues for Salvadoranwomen experiencing PTSD. In response to requests from Salvadoran mental health providers, a treatmentprogram was developed to help Salvadoran women reduce their distress. Goals of the treatment included associating distress with the trauma as a normal reaction to a very abnormal event, reducing feelings of loss of control, reducing "survivor guilt," and lessening anxiety and high arousal level. These goals were accomplished using cognitive-behavioral and community-oriented strategies.

Keywords: trauma, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, female refugees, mental health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: El Salvador

Year: 1992

Rebuilding Social Capital in Post-Conflict Regions: Women's Village Banking in Ayucucho, Peru and in Highland Guatemala


Bebbington, Denise Humphreys, and Arelis Gómez. 2006. "Rebuilding Social Capital in Post-Conflict Regions: Women's Village Banking in Ayucucho, Peru and in Highland Guatemala." In Microfinance: Perils and Propsects, edited by Jude L. Fernando, 112-132. London: Routledge.

Authors: Denis Humphreys Bebbington, Arelis Gómez


In this chapter we will use examples from two village banking programs, in post-conflict Ayacucho, Peru (with FINCA Peru) and in Highland Guatemala (with the NGO FAFIDESS), to illustrate how the provision of financial services contributed to the rebuilding of such social capital. The experiences of group managed lending schemes, such as the village banks promoted by FINCA International, and traditional rotating savings and credit associations known as ROSCAs, suggest that there is indeed an important relationship between the social dynamic of the group and favorable financial outcomes. Our findings indicate that the more members trust each other, the better able they are to engage in mutual risk-taking and reap the benefits.

Keywords: reconstruction


“The [Foundation for Community Assistance] methodology, based upon principles of self-help and self-management, primarily targets poor women in urban and semi-urban settings...participants are self-selected and may often be friends, neighbors, or relatives and programs often have selection criteria which might include: preference for mothers with children, permanent residence in the community, reputation for honesty, and hard work.” (Bebbington, 114)

“By virtue of their social isolation, poor women are difficult clients to recruit...Situations of conflict pose special problems, particularly when the result is a larger number of war widows...Encouraging members to articulate their personal hardships and dreams is at the center of FINCA’s social empowerment strategy for women...Beyond the emotional appeal of this approach, it helps isolated women extend their social networks with important impacts.” (Bebbington, 119)

“NGOs that are both knowledgeable of the region and sensitive to their clients’ needs will be better able to look for synergism that will enhance benefits to their clients. They will understand the dimensions of the client’s poverty and vulnerability.” (Bebbington, 119)

“However this newly discovered economic power has shifted roles within families often resulting in increased conflict within the family, particularly with spouses, but also with children and other family members.” (Bebbington, 125)

Topics: Class, Development, Economies, Gender, Women, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Americas, Central America, South America Countries: Guatemala, Peru

Year: 2006

The Other Half of Gender: Men's Issues in Development


Bannon, Ian, & Maria Correia. 2006. The Other Half of Gender: Men's Issues in Development. Washington, DC: World Bank Group.

Authors: Ian Bannon, Maria Correia


This book is an attempt to bring the gender and development debate full circle-from a much-needed focus on empowering women to a more comprehensive gender framework that considers gender as a system that affects both women and men. The chapters in this book explore definitions of masculinity and male identities in a variety of social contexts, drawing from experiences in Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. It draws on a slowly emerging realization that attaining the vision of gender equality will be difficult, if not impossible, without changing the ways in which masculinities are defined and acted upon. Although changing male gender norms will be a difficult and slow process, we must begin by understanding how versions of masculinities are defined and acted upon. (WorldCat)

Keywords: development, gender norms

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America, South America

Year: 2006

Land and Property Rights of Women in Situations of Reconstruction: The Central American Experience


Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. 1998. “Land and Property Rights of Women in Situations of Reconstruction: The Central American Experience.” Paper prepared for the Inter-Regional Consultation on Women’s Land and Property Rights in Situations of Conflict and Reconstruction, Kigali, Rwanda, February 16 - 19.

Author: Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress

Topics: Gender, Women, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, Central America

Year: 1998

Sex and the Sandinistas

"Nicaragua is known for the Sandinista Revolution, an inspiring struggle for national liberation. What has never been told before is the story of how homosexuals, in the teeth of a machista Roman Catholic culture, battled for their own space inside the Revolution. What really happened when the Sandinistas found their soldiers and revolutionary comrades falling in love with the wrong sex?

New Directions

"New Directions is award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke's series about women's empowerment in developing countries.


"In 1998, Managua, Nicaragua became host to one of the most publicized and controversial cases of sexual abuse to hit modern day Latin America. At the epicenter of the scandal stood none other than Nicaraguan Sandinista leader and ex-President Daniel Ortega. Revered as a revolutionary hero and symbol of military strength, Ortega was accused on multiple charges of rape and battery by his stepdaughter, Soilamerica Narvaez.


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