CoMadres traces its origins to the late 1970s, when a number of women’s groups in El Salvador sought the same truth: the whereabouts of relatives who had gone missing or been assassinated during their nation’s civil war. When Archbishop Oscar Romero encouraged them to unite behind a single banner, CoMadres was born.

In addition to its advocacy on behalf of the disappeared and assassinated, CoMadres has expanded its activities to include lobbying for amnesty for political prisoners, human rights education, and women’s empowerment. During the civil war, they pursued their work despite the kidnapping and torture of several CoMadres members and their families and the bombing of their office.

In 1986, Bono of the rock band U2 paid tribute to CoMadres in the song “Mothers of the Disappeared.”