Our Impact: The Single Mother’s Cooperative of El Salvador

Through the Canadian Federation of Students-Services, students’ unions across Canada have a direct impact on supporting and improving the lives of single mother’s in El Savlador.

In 2007 the Federation first partnered with the Madres Solteras of El Salvador to bulk purchase 40,000 t-shirts for campus orientation activities. For more than seven years, the Madres Solteras – also known as the Single Mothers’ Cooperative of El Salvador – has been producing sweat-shop free textiles for the Canadian student movement.

Today, the Federation continues to work with the Cooperative to produce a variety of t-shirts, tote bags, shopping bags and laundry bags for students’ unions across Canada.

History of the Single Mothers’ Cooperative of El Salvador

In 2005 a group of women living in Cuidad Futura, El Salvador, came together to create the Cooperative. At the time many thousands of garment workers, including these women, were losing jobs in El Salvador as a result of wide-spread closures of maquiladoras in the region as world-wide clothing production shifted to other parts of the world. The members of the Cooperative had years of experience working in the garment industry and as a result had the skills and knowledge to create their own production facility.

The Cooperative works with a Canadian cooperative, JustShirts, to help with the coordination and sales of textiles.

The Federation’s initial order of 40,000 t-shirts allowed the Cooperative to relocate to a safer commercial area in San Salvador. The new work space is larger and more secure and includes space to operative a daycare for cooperative members.

Each year the Federation works with the Cooperative to order a variety of textile goods that are then available for purchase by member students’ unions. The Cooperative is responsible for the production process including sewing, quality control, and packing and shipping.