Honduras is ranked 18thout of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 36th out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.625, placing it 121st place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.511. Honduras' Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6945, placing it 54th place (out of a total of 135 countries)

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The Family Code of Honduras upholds equality between the spouses in every aspect of everyday life, yet in other areas, current legislation discriminates against women or upholds stereotypes, for instance clauses in the Penal Code which allow for a woman of “good reputation” to carry out a prison sentence within her marital home.[1] The Family Code is taken to apply to registered marriages as well as to de facto unions.[2]

The minimum age for marriage is reported to be 21 in Honduras.[3]  The incidence of early marriage has fallen recently, but the number of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed was still near 25 percent in 2005.[4]

There is no evidence to suggest that polygamy is a common practice in Honduras.

According to the Family Code, men and women share equal rights and responsibilities in regard to parental authority.[5] According to the 2006 report to the CEDAW committee, despite awareness of their rights under the Family Code, in cases of conflict, many women are reluctant to stand up to their husbands or partners in court in child custody cases, out of fear, shame, or social pressure.[6]  It is unclear whether women and men have the same rights to divorce.  Honduran women have the right to pass Honduran citizenship onto their children.[7] 

There is no legal discrimination against Honduran women in the area of inheritance. The law favors the surviving spouse regardless of gender, provided the inheritance is necessary for their subsistence. Nonetheless, discriminatory social norms have a strong influence in this area as well, and can hinder women’s access to inheritance.[8]

 [1] Articles 2 and 14 of the Family Code; Article 42 of the Penal Code in CEDAW (2006), pp. 16-17, 63 [2] CEDAW (2006), p.63 [3] Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006), p.37 [4] United Nations (UN) (2008) [5] Articles 2 and 7 of the Family Code in CEDAW (2006), pp.63-64 [6] CEDAW (2006), p.64 [7] CEDAW (2006), p.29 [8] Lastarria-Cornhiel, S. et al. (2003), p. 41.

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

Rape is considered a “public crime” and proceedings can be initiated even if the victim does not press charges.[9] Spousal rape is an exception; in the absence of a complaint on the part of the victim, only a judge can make the decision to bring proceedings (this is done on a case-by-case basis). The penalty for rape ranges from three to nine years in prison, and is applied effectively by the authorities.[10]

The Law on Domestic Violence came into effect in 1997, and was amended in 2006.[11]  The definition of violence encompasses psychological and economic violence.[12] With these amendments, specialist domestic violence courts were established in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to hear cases covered by the law; outside of these cities, however, awareness of the law among the judiciary remains low.[13]  Those convicted of domestic violence can face 2 – 4 years of imprisonment, although according to the US Department of State’s 2010 human rights report, in practice, the law is poorly implemented.[14]  However, the government of Honduras has taken steps to strengthen protection of women’s physical integrity, including working with NGOs to increase police training on laws relating to domestic violence.[15]

Sexual harassment is a criminal offence, with penalties of 1 – 3 years imprisonment.[16]

Rape is considered to be a ‘serious and pervasive crime’, according to the US Department of State.  Between January and September 2010, 2,048 cases of rape were reported to the police.[17]

The number of reports of domestic violence resulting in convictions has increased considerably in recent years, but remains relatively low due to a lack of human, financial and logistical resources in the justice department.[18]  7,742 reports were made to the police in 2010.[19]  However, the US Department of State reports that in many instances, women remain reluctant to report domestic violence.[20]  In a 2006 Demographic and Health Survey, 9 percent of women married or in union aged 15 to 49 reported experiencing physical or sexual violence at the hands of their spouse or partner.[21] The same survey asked women if a man was justified in hitting his wife for one of five reasons, and found that 16 percent of women agreed with at least one of them.[22]  

Honduras, along with other countries in Central America, has come to be associated with the phenomenon of ‘femicide’ – the murder of women because they are women.[23]  According to an article published in Gender & Development journal in 2007 looking at the phenomenon across the region, femicidesrepresent the ultimate form of gender-based violence, ‘that is intrinsically linked to deeply entrenched gender inequality and discrimination, economic disempowerment, and aggressive or machismo masculinity.’[24]  The Commission Against Femicide – a coalition of women’s rights organisations in Honduras – stated at a press conference in September 2011 that ‘Aggression against women and the murder of women have become systematic and habitual in the country’, going on to quote figures from the Special Prosecutor for Cases involving Women that 192 women had been killed violently in the first six months of 2011.[25]  Gang-related gun crime, political instability since the 2009 coup, and police and political indifference (resulting in a conviction rate of just 4.2% of reported cases) are said to be fuelling the high rates of femicide in Honduras.[26]  A law specifically criminalising femicide has been presented to Congress, but the Commission Against Femicide criticised the bill, saying that it had been drawn up without proper consultation, and contained potential loopholes and vague wording.[27]

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practised in Honduras.

Abortion is only legal in cases where the woman’s life is in danger.[28]

Women have the right to use contraception, and to access information about family planning and reproductive health.[29]  Contraceptive knowledge among women in Honduras is universal, according to data from the 2005-2006 DHS.[30] Actual use rates are somewhat lower. While 88 percent of women aged 15 to 49 either married or in union had ever used a modern method of contraception, only 56 percent were currently using such a method to prevent pregnancy.[31] For unmarried but sexually active women, those numbers were 92 and 62 percent, respectively.) These numbers indicate a 3-5 percent rise in the number of women using contraception since the last DHS in 2001.[32] Seventeen percent of women in this group have an unmet desire to either limit the number or space the births of their children.[33]

[9] CEDAW (2006), p.14; US Department of State (2010) [10] US Department of State (2010) [11] Decree No. 132-97, the Law on Domestic Violence, enacted 29 Sept. 1997, amended 2006 in CEDAW (2006), p.14 and CEDAW (2007a), p.4 [12] CEDAW (2006), p. 14. [13] CEDAW (2007a), p.4; CEDAW (2006), p.16 [14] US Department of State (2011) [15] US Department of State (2010) [16] Article 147-A of the Penal Code in CEDAW (2006), p.14 [17] US Department of State (2011) [18] CEDAW (2006), p. 15. [19] US Department of State (2011) [20] US Department of State (2011) [21] Secretaría de Salud et al (2006), Table 12.2. [22] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), Table 14.6. [23] Prieto-Carrón, Thomson and Macdonald (2007), p.25 [24] Prieto-Carrón, Thomson and Macdonald (2007), p.26 [25] Social Watch (2011) [26] Kelly (2011) [27] Social Watch (2011) [28] UN (2011) [29] US Department of State (2011) [30] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), Table 5.1. [31] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), Table 5.2; UN (2007) [32] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), Graphs 5.2 and 5.3. [33] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), Table 7.2; UN 2007.

Son Bias: 

According the 2005-2006 DHS, 75.6% of boys and 74.3% of girls under two had received all their basic vaccinations.[34]  Under-five mortality rates were lower for girls than for boys, while rates of malnutrition were virtually identical.[35]  Overall, this would not indicate son preference in regard to early childhood care.

Gender-disaggregated data regarding child labour were not available

According to UNICEF, enrolment and attendance rates at primary and secondary level were higher for girls than for boys.[36]  This would indicate an absence of son preference in regard to access to education.

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.01.[37] 

There is no evidence to suggest that Honduras is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[34] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), table 10.3 [35] Secretaría de Salud et al. (2006), tables 8.3, 11.6 [36] UNICEF (n.d.) [37] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Concerning access to land, Article 74 of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women stipulates that women and men are equally entitled to benefit from the Land Reform Law, yet women own only one-quarter of all plots in the country.[38] Socio-cultural norms generally recognise men as the heads of the families and, thus, as the landowners. Although the law specifies that land can be registered under the names of both spouses, this is rarely requested.[39]

There are no legal restrictions that obstruct Honduran women’s access to property other than land. With the aim of improving support for families, the Family Code reflects the Constitution regarding jointly owned assets and guarantees ownership rights in the case of divorce.[40]

The National Bank for Agricultural Development (BANADESA) seeks to improve gender equality by providing equal access to bank loans for both men and women. Despite the absence of legal discrimination, women have a long history of being subject to social discrimination in trying to access loans, largely due to their lack of access to land.[41]

[38] Law on Equal Opportunities for Women, Article 74 in CEDAW (2006), p. 52 and Lastarria-Cornhiel (2003), p. 13. [39] Lastarria-Cornhiel (2003), p. 12. [40] US Department of State (2010) [41] CEDAW (2006), pp. 52-54. 

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

Serious violations of the political freedom and civil liberties of all Hondurans occurred during the political crisis of 2009. During the crisis the government suspended habeas corpus and other civil rights. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported instances of women being verbally, physically, sexually and psychologically assaulted by soldiers during demonstrations against the militarily-installed caretaker government. Although reported to the Honduran government, the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Women has not taken any action, and the Supreme Court has dismissed these claims for lack of evidence as reported to law enforcement officials.[42]

Under normal circumstances, there do not appear to be any legal restrictions on women’s access to public space.

Freedom of speech, assembly and association are protected in the constitution, but are not currently observed in practice.[43]  There is an active and vocal women’s rights movement in Honduras, who campaign particularly on issues relating to gender-based violence and femicide.[44]  According to the 2006 CEDAW report, the actions of women’s rights organisations and the feminist movement in the 1990s resulted in government legislation and policies to challenge discrimination and violence against women.[45]  Since the 2009 coup, many activist groups have come under considerable scrutiny and have faced threats and restrictions on their activities, according to Freedom House.[46]

Women and men have the same legal right to vote and stand for election.[47]  Following the November 2009 elections that ended the political crisis, women hold 23 of the 128 seats in the unicameral National Congress.[48]

Women in Honduras have the right to take 10 weeks of paid maternity leave (up to three months if she is ill), and must present her employer with a medical certificate stating that she is pregnant and giving the probable first day of leave. Social Security pays for two-thirds of her leave, with her employer covering the remainder. It is illegal to fire women who are pregnant or nursing during her pregnancy or for the three months following the birth of her child.[49]  However, given that the majority of women work in the informal sector, as domestic workers, or in the maquiladoras (where labour rights are routinely flouted),[50] few women in Honduras are able to benefit from these provisions.

[42] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICAHR) (2009), pp. 136-138. [43] Freedom House (2010) [44] See Social Watch (2011); Kelly (2011) [45] CEDAW (2006), pp.7-10 [46] Freedom House (2010) [47] CEDAW (2006), p.25 [48] Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010). [49] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009). [50] CEDAW (2007b), p.6


An independent country since 1839, Honduras experienced many years of military rule until a civilian government was established for the first time in 1982.[51]  In 2009, Honduras experienced a political crisis when democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was deposed and forced into exile.[52]  This led to civil unrest and restrictions on human rights on a mass scale and drew widespread international condemnation.[53] While the elections of November 2009 have eased the crisis, long-term impacts are uncertain.  Poverty and social inequality are pronounced in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the region; Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are particularly affected.[54]  The country also has very high rates of crime, the result of gang violence fuelled by struggle for control over the drugs trade.[55]  The Honduran economy is reliant on fruit production and remittances, and Honduras is classed as a lower-middle income country by the World Bank.[56]

The Constitution of Honduras prohibits all forms of discrimination and federal legislation makes clear reference to equality for men and women.[57] However, patriarchal beliefs continue to influence the ideology of public institutions and political parties, and represent the main obstacle to improving conditions for women in the country.[58] By and large women still make up a disproportionate number of low-wage workers, and continue to receive less pay than men for equal work.[59] In addition, rates of gender-based violence are very high, including ‘femicide’, i.e. the gender-based killing of women.[60]  The feminist movement in Honduras grew significantly in the 1980s and 1990s, and paved the way for the adoption of several laws favourable to women.[61]

Honduras ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1983, but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol.[62]  The country ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Convention of Belém do Pará’) in 1995.[63]

Honduras is ranked in 121st place in the 2011 Human Development Index (out of 187 countries), with a score of 0.625.[64]  Under the 2011 Gender Inequality Index, the country’s score is 0.511 (105th out of 146 countries with data).[65]  Honduras’ score under the Global Gender Gap Index for 2011 is 0.6945, placing it in 54th place (out of 135 countries).[66]

[51] Freedom House (2010); BBC (n.d.) [52] Freedom House (2010) [53] Freedom House (2010) [54] BBC (n.d.); Freedom House (2010) [55] BBC (n.d.) [56] BBC (n.d.); World Bank (n.d.) [57] Article 60 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Honduras, adopted Jan. 1982 in Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), p. 11. [58] CEDAW (2006), p. 8. [59] Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (2002), p. 20; US Department of State (2010) [60] CEDAW (2007b), p.4 [61] CEDAW (2007), pp. 8-10. [62] UNTC (2011) [63] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (n.d.) [64] United Nations Development Programme (2011) p.129 [65] United Nations Development Programme (2011) p.141 [66] World Economic Forum (2011) p.10


BBC (n.d.) ‘Honduras country profile’, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1225416.stm (accessed  23 November 2011)

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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Honduras, Combined Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Periodic Report of States Parties, CEDAW/C/HON/6, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2007a) Responses to the list of issues and questions with regard to the consideration of the combined fourth, fifth and sixth periodic report Honduras’, CEDAW/C/HON/Q/6/Add.1, CEDAW, New York

CEDAW (2007b) Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Honduras, CEDAW/C/HON/CO/6, CEDAW, New York

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Freedom House (2010) ‘Freedom in the World country reports:  Honduras’, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=7837 (accessed 23 November 2011)

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (2009), Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup D’état, IACHR: Washington, DC.

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Lastarria-Cornhiel, S. et al. (2003), Joint Titling in Nicaragua, Indonesia and Honduras, Rapid Appraisal Synthesis, Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison.

Prieto-Carrón, Marina, Marilyn Thomson, and Mandy Macdonald (2007) ‘No more killings! Women respond to femicides in Central America’, Gender & Development, vol.15, no.1

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Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
Son Bias Value 2012: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: