By: Wini Omer
Mozambique’s latest general election was held on 15th of October 2019, the current president, who represents Front for the Liberation of Mozambique party (FRELIMO) won a second term, while the opposition rejected the results of the election. Around 13-million of Mozambique’s 30 million citizens are registered to vote in elections for the presidency, parliament and provincial governors. Every five years, Mozambique runs presidential and parliamentary elections. The president should win with absolute majority, and if no candidate obtains more than 50%, a second round of the election will be held between the two most prevailing candidates.
Women’s political participation
In the last elections, 170 seats were held by women in parliament: Frelimo has 122 women in parliament, Renamo 66 women and MDM 82 women this in the box.
Historically, in the first elections held back in 1994, women held 25.2% of the seats in the national assembly (63 seats out of 250); in the second election, held in 1999, the ratio increased to 29.2% (73 seats); then to 35.6% (89 seats) in 2004 elections; to 38.4% in 2009 elections (96 seats), and to 40% (99 seat) in 2014 elections.
There is no legislation to guarantee women’s quota in the political level, but voluntary political parties quota is in effect, with the ruling party FRELIMO adopting a 40% women’s quota in the assembly and local level elections.
With currently 38 percent of female Members of Parliament (MPs), Mozambique has one of the highest female parliamentary representations in Africa, and in the world. Nonetheless, Mozambique is one of the poorest ranked countries on the Gender Equality Index, and women face numerous obstacles in their everyday life, in particular widespread domestic violence, early child marriages, high maternal death, lower education levels, higher HIV/AIDS rates, fewer wage jobs, and lower income.
Nonetheless, the above high rate of women’s political participation was not translated into gender equality policies and strategies, due to the influence of the society’s patriarchal culture over female parliamentarians.
In both law and practice, women are facing discrimination. Women access to land ownership is still not effective in practice, though the law has granted that right to women. Marital rape is not criminalised. Child marriage and early pregnancy rates are high as well ( in 2004 it was estimated that 24% of girls were married by the time they were 15, and it is estimated that 24% of women between ages 15 and 19 already have 2 children). Mozambique has signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its optional protocol, along with Maputo protocol.
Women political participation in the parliamentary level is increasing, but without a significant impact on women’s social and economic rights. The domination of the FERLIMO party over political life in Mozambique since 1975 has overshadowed the advancement of women's rights, most of the parliamentarians who are affiliated to this party, by prioritizing their allegiance to the party over women’s agenda. More efforts need to be done in regard to women’s socio-economic rights, and to end any kind of contradictions between national legislations and human rights standards.