Among certain social sectors in El Salvador, couples have not necessarily engaged in formal marriages. But with the economic and political crisis of the 1980s, many poor Salvador women were left with the sole financial responsibility for their children. With the ‘modernisation’ of the state in the post-war period, more of those women began to seek the assistance of the state in securing child support. This paper looks at the process that women had to go through to access that support and explores how Mujeres por La Dignidad y La Vida (Women for Dignity and Life), a feminist organisation created out of the Salvadoran civil war, mobilised women to challenge institutionalised gender roles reflected in that process. The conflicts that arose within the new organisation they formed, the Asociación de Madres Demandantes (Association of Mothers Seeking Child Support), highlight the different interests of the women being organised and those organising them. These conflicts were intensified by the policies of donor organisations that supported the work of the Association.
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