On 4 June 2023, Bissau-Guineans gathered across the country to elect their new members of parliament. It was the first election since President Umaro Sissoco Embaló dissolved Guinea-Bissau’s 10th parliament in May 2022. The opposition coalition Inclusive Alliance Platform (Terra Ranka), led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), won most of the seats in the elections, 54 out of 102.

The elections were reportedly peaceful and followed due process. In May 2023, President Embaló stated that he would not appoint the leader of PAIGC, Domingos Simões Pereira, to the office of Prime Minister even if the PAIGC were to secure all seats in parliament. In August, President Embaló issued a decree in which he named PAIGC's deputy leader, Geraldo Martins, as the next Prime Minister.

Since its independence in 1973, Guinea-Bissau has recorded four successful and 17 attempted coups; the 17th in February 2022 prompted the dissolution of the 10th People’s National Assembly. These extended periods of political instability have heightened poverty, slowed economic growth and lowered the quality of education, security and healthcare over the years.

Guinea-Bissau has a unicameral parliament, the People's National Assembly. Of the Assembly's 102 seats, 100 are directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by closed-list proportional representation vote. The remaining two are directly elected from two single-seat overseas constituencies. Members of its parliament, the People's National Assembly, are elected to serve for a maximum of four years. The President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau serves a maximum of two five-year terms. The President appoints the Prime Minister based on being the leader of the party who wins the majority of seats during the legislative elections.

Although the 1984 Constitution of Guinea-Bissau guarantees men and women equal rights in political participation, there is no explicitly stated quota to promote women’s representation in politics. The 2018 Parity Law establishes aminimum 36% quota for women’s participation and representation in elections or appointment lists to the National Assembly.

Women’s Political Participation

Despite the 36% quota established in 2018, women’s electoral and political representation and participation have yet to reach this target. The number of women elected to the National Assembly dropped from 14 out of 102 (13.73%) in 2019 to 10 out of 102 seats (9.8%) in 2023.

In its 50-year post-independence history, Guinea-Bissau has had one female President, H. E. Carmen Maria de Araújo Pereira, who served for three days as Acting President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau in 1984. Before she died in 2016, Carmen Pereira was heavily involved in Guinea-Bissau’s pre- and post-independence politics, serving as a political officer and commander in PAIGC in 1966, Deputy President of the People’s National Assembly from 1973 to 1984, Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Guinea-Bissau from 1981 - 1983, President of the People’s National Assembly and Acting President in 1984 (during the transition to the 1984 constitution) and finally as Deputy Prime Minister.

PAIGC was one of the first political parties that pushed gender equality and equal representation within its leadership in pre-independence Guinea-Bissau. After independence, several PAIGC women leaders and combatants held positions in the National Assembly and government. The Party established a voluntary party quota of 30% for female candidates as part of its guidelines for the 2019 elections. While they did not meet the national minimum quota of 36% female representation, they had the highest number of women candidates (31 out of 102) who participated in the 2019 elections.

The current Minister of Foreign Affairs in Guinea Bissau, H.E. Suzi Barbosa, was one of the female candidates who participated in the 2019 legislative elections. A member of PAIGC and a previous member of parliament, Ms Barbosa has been a vocal advocate for increased female political participation in Guinea-Bissau, mainly through her role as Coordinator of the Committee of Women Parliamentarians of Guinea-Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau has also enacted legislation to strengthen women’s rights, such as penalising FGM (Law to Prevent, Fight and Suppress Female Genital Mutilation (Law No. 14/2011) anddomestic violence. The country's economy is based mainly on rural agriculture; about 80% of the labour force is involved in agricultural jobs. However, sexist customs still prevail in Guinea-Bissau, particularly concerning land ownership rights. Women are the majority engaged in land labour. However, discriminatory customary laws prevent many women from owning the lands which they cultivate. While the Constitution espouses the right to use private land without discrimination, men typically own the land on which women produce. Through collaborations with international organisations such as WFP and AUDA-NEPAD, the government of Guinea-Bissau has worked to strengthen the technical and financial capacity of hundreds of women in the fisheries and agricultural production industries.


In the recently concluded 2023 elections, the number of women elected to parliament dropped to 9.8% from 13.73% in 2019, falling short of the 36% quota set in the 2018 Parity Law. Bissau-Guinean women comprise 51% of the population, yet they are still underrepresented in parliament and decision-making. The Inclusive Alliance Platform Coalition won the most seats in the National Assembly, 54 out of 102. In August 2023, President Embaló named Geraldo Martin Prime Minister. 

While female representation in parliament remains low, women’s groups and committees have significantly contributed to advancing women’s equal political participation. Organisations such as the Guinean Council of Women Facilitators for Dialogue (CMGFD) and the Women’s Political Platform (PPM) were instrumental in facilitating the adoption of the 2018 gender quota law and are equally vocal in peacebuilding processes. Last year, with the support of UNDP and parliamentarian women, the National Elections Commission  engaged women in training sessions to raise awareness of the opportunities for women and the electoral process. 

 Women's political participation

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