By: Vivian Nilsson – van Iperen

On November 20, 2022, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea held its presidential and legislative elections. President Obiang decreed that the elections be held simultaneously based on a recommendation from the senate and for financial reasons. The presidential elections were previously scheduled to be held in early 2023. In the days leading up to the polls, the government arrested many opposition activists accusing them of planning attacks. Even so, election day proceeded peacefully. Interest in the elections was high, with a reported 98.41% voter turnout.

The Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) and its 14 allied parties won all seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Its leader, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was re-elected for a sixth term with 94.9% of the votes cast. Andres Esono Ondo, leader of the Convergence for Social Democracy party, took second place with 2.3%. Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, leader of the Social Democratic Coalition Party, came in third with less than 1%.  

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) noted the polls were held in accordance with international standards and the national legal framework governing the elections. In contrast, other international election observers, civil society organisations and opposition parties reported allegations of election-related irregularitiesAndrés Esono Ondo denounced the elections as fraudulent. No major opposition parties participated in the 2022 parliamentary elections.

Equatorial Guinea has a bicameral parliament. The Chamber of Deputies (lower chamber) has 100 members who are directly elected and serve five-year termsThe statutory number of seats in the Senate is 70, of which 55 are directly elected, and the President appoints 15 members. The total number of Senate seats varies during the legislature because, besides the elected and appointed members, it may also include ex-officio members. As of the 2022 elections, the Senate comprises 74 members. The Senators serve for five years. The President serves as head of state and head of government and is elected through a plurality of votes. President Obiang has been in office since 1979 following a coup d'état, making him the longest serving President in the world. The President appoints the Prime Minister. 

The 1991 Constitution recognises gender equality and gives women the same rights and opportunities as men, such as in politics. It also prohibits discrimination based on gender and calls on public powers to “adopt legal initiatives and mechanisms” promoting adequate representation and participation of women in offices and institutions of the State. Equatorial Guinea currently does not have legislated quotas.

Women’s Political Participation

In the 2022 elections, the number of women elected to the Chamber of Deputies increased. In the Senate, the results were mixed. In the Chamber of Deputies31% (31 out of 100) of the members elected were women, compared to 20% (20 out of 100) in 2017. In the Senate, 13 out of the 55 directly elected members are women, up from 5 in 2017. Among the Senate members appointed by the President, women’s representation declined from 5 members in 2017 to 2 in 2022. In addition to the directly elected and appointed members of the Senate, the Chamber also include ex-officio members. Out of the current four ex-officio members, one is female. The total number of female members of the Senate stands at 21.6% (16 out of 74) in 2022, compared to 15.3% in 2017.

None of the three presidential candidates was a woman.

There were some notable advances, of which one is historic for women in Equatorial Guinea. On January 31, 2023, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo appointed Manuela Roka Botey as prime minister. She is the first woman to serve in this role. Before her appointment, Manuela Roka Botey served as Minister for National Education, University Education and Sports. Three women serve as ministers in the newly elected government, Pamela Nse Eworo, Minister of Information, Press and Radio; María Consuelo Nguema Oyana, Minister for Social Affairs and Gender Equality; and Milagrosa Obono Angüe, Minister Delegate for the State Treasury and State Assets. Finally, María Teresa Efua Asangono was re-elected president of the Senate. She has served in this role since 2013.

Beyond women’s political participation and representation, Equatorial Guinea has adopted legislation strengthening women’s rights. Concerning women in the workplace, the 2012 General Labour Regulation (Ordenamiento General del Trabajo) forbids discrimination in employment based on gender and the dismissal of pregnant workers. It also mandates equal remuneration for work of equal value. Domestic violence and rape are prohibited under the law. The laws are, however, poorly enforced, and survivors are often reluctant to report incidences of violence and abuse. Although illegal, the law on rape does not address spousal rape or the gender of rape survivors. Despite reports of sexual harassment as a significant problem, no legislation prohibits such acts. 


In the 2022 elections, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) and its 14 allied parties won all seats in both chambers of the parliament. President Obiang was re-elected for a sixth term. There were some positive advances in women’s political participation and representation. 31% of the members elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 2022 were women, to 20% in 2017. Similarly, among the 55 directly elected Senate members, female representation increased from 5 members in 2017 to 13 in 2022. Conversely, among the appointed Senate members, female representation declined from 5 in 2017 to 2 in 2022. Despite the decline in appointed female members, women's participation in the Senate increased overall. It rose from 15.3% in 2017 to 21.6% in 2022. History was made following the 2022 elections when President Obiang appointed Manuela Roka Botey as Prime Minister, the first woman to hold this position.

While positive developments followed the 2022 elections, women’s political representation remains low in both houses of parliament, and few women hold ministerial positions. In its statement on the elections in Equatorial Guinea, the AUEOM encouraged the country’s political parties to promote gender to “better stimulate women’s electoral representation in elective and semi-elective decision-making bodies.” They also recognised the important role of civil society organisations in electoral processes, including election observation. Moreover, CSOs are critical in pushing for increased women’s representation and participation in public and political life, the adoption of a quota, and holding the State and political parties accountable. 

Women's representation in National Parliament 2017 v 2022Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

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