By: Naomi Ndifon

In what can be described as a long-awaited, high-stakes election, the Republic of Angola held its presidential and parliamentary elections on the 24th of August, 2022. The 2022 elections are the fifth since the country's independence in 1975 and its return to the multiparty system in 1992. Election day processes were generally fair. However, the final results were disputed and raised uproar amongst the main opposition party's supporters. The aftermath of the elections left several people injured.

For the first time in the country's history, Angolans living abroad were allowed to vote, of which 22,000 Angolans registered to vote. Eight parties participated in the presidential elections. Chief among them were the ruling party, People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), run by incumbent President João Lourenço, and the main opposition party, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by parliamentarian Adalberto Costa Júnior. President João Lourenço secured a second term in office after winning 51.7% of the total votes against the 44% secured by his counterpart. Having won the presidential seat, the MPLA will have a parliamentary majority in the new five-year term. The MPLA holds 124 of the 220 seats and the presidency of the unicameral National Assembly.

The Angolan President is the Head of State and Head of Government and can serve a maximum of two five-year terms. Angola has a unicameral parliamentary system. The National Assembly of Angola has 220 members. Law 22/10 on political parties establishes an electoral quota for women. It encourages all political parties to have at least 30% gender representation in directive bodies at all levels. Several parties, including Angola’s ruling party, MPLA, have adopted this legislated electoral quota to promote equal political opportunities between men and women. Although there are no other specific provisions promoting increased women’s political participation, the 2010 Constitution enshrines the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

Women’s Political Participation

Following the 2022 parliamentary elections, women make up 70 out of 220 seats (33.64%) in the National Assembly. This represents an increase from the 2017 elections when women occupied 68 out of 220 seats (26.82% ).

Out of the eight presidential candidates in the 2022 elections, there was only one woman; Florbela Malaquias, a lawyer and former journalist. Malaquias gained prominence as a UNITA militant; she fought for the party during the Angolan civil war and is also the author of "Heroínas da Dignidade I - Memories of War," a core text informing the Angolan Women's League (UNITA's women's wing). She is the leader of the newly established Humanist Party of Angola, which following the 2022 election, occupies two seats in the National Assembly. Despite failing to secure 2% of the total votes in the presidential elections, Malaquias was elected into the National Assembly.

President João Lourenço’s running mate, Professor Esperança Maria Eduardo Francisco da Costa, became Angola’s first female Vice President following the 2022 presidential election. Before holding one of the most revered positions in the country, Prof. Esperança da Costa - who had extensive experience in plant biology - was appointed Angola’s Secretary of State for Fisheries in 2020. She has also held development positions; as the National Director of the Expansion of Higher Education at the Ministry of Higher Education from 2007 - 2010, and as Founder of the UAN Botany Center, amongst others. Her election to the Vice Presidency was a historic moment for all Angolan women, which she says will usher in a new era as “women are ready to take on the country’s challenges.”

In September 2022, Carolina Cerqueira was elected Speaker of Angola’s fifth National Assembly, making her the first woman to hold that position in Angola. Carolina Cerqueira has previously served as Minister of Social Communication from 2010 – 2012, Deputy to the National Assembly from 2012 – 2016, Vice President of the Pan African Women’s Organization for Southern Africa from 2013 – 2016, Minister of Culture from 2016 – 2019 among other executive local and international positions.

Beyond the political scene, Angola has progressed in women's rights and gender equality. Angola has enacted laws that protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace and actively punish cases of violence against women (as referenced in Sections II and III and Art. 186 of the 2004 Penal Code of the Republic of Angola). In the new penal code that came into effect in 2021, further provisions were made to protect the rights of children in conflict and criminalise female gender mutilation. The 2013 National Gender Equality Policy aimed to increase the representation of women in decision-making spaces. Likewise, The National Development Plan for Angola (2018–2022) included particular measures for the advancement of women's rights, such as the program for the promotion of gender and women's empowerment, assistance for victims of gender-based violence, and community restructuring with a focus on women.


Incumbent President João Lourenço of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was re-elected for a second five-year term in office following the elections held on the 24th of August, 2022. Two women, in particular, stood out; Professor Esperança Maria Eduardo Francisco da Costa, President João Lourenço's running mate and Florbela Malaquias, the only female presidential candidate in the election. For the first time in Angola's history, a woman - Professor Esperança da Costa - now occupies the country's second highest seat: the Office of the Vice President. Women's representation in the National Assembly increased from 26.82% in 2017 to 33.64% following the 2022 elections.

History has been made through the election of the first female vice president, and the number of women elected has increased in this election. More Angolan women should be encouraged to stand for election as increased representation translates into meaningful decision-making power in the National Assembly.

 representation of women in Angola national assembly 2017 vs 2022
Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

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