DOUBLE UP

Mozambique 2016 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Mozambique's public and private sectors are working together to promote female empowerment at the business level.

The participation of woman in political and economic life, though improving, is still far from equal everywhere. The American scientist, Robert Ballard, once said that the most important thing people can do to save our planet and the human race is to empower women. If this is true at all, then it should be all the more true in Africa.

Article 36 of the Mozambican Constitution of 2004 states, “men and women are equal before the law in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life." Other statutory instruments such as the Labor Law are also gender friendly, but women will never be able to benefit from it unless they move from the informal to the formal sector. In fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of working women in Mozambique are employed in the informal sector. Natividade Bule, a founding member and Ex-President of Ntamú, is working to improve this situation and explained to TBY how the association runs training courses, speeches, and assists women in getting IDs, VAT registration, and helps them with bureaucratic processes.

According to the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report, where 0 represents inequality and 1 represents equality, Mozambique scored 0.7349. At first glance, this is definitely a very good position and places Mozambique 26th out of 146 countries. Nevertheless, gender equality is not the same as female empowerment. Aware of this, both the public and the private sectors in Mozambique are developing initiatives to entrust and unleash the potential of women and girls, especially as entrepreneurs. One example of these initiatives is the first Business Woman Forum celebrated in Maputo in October 2015 and attended by his Excellency President Nyusi and a number of the most influential women in the country.

Little by little, women, who not long ago could not open a bank account in the country without their husbands permission, are more and more involved in all the sectors of the economy. The General Director of the National Institute of Information and Communication Technologies (INTIC), Dulce Chicundo, told TBY that the number of women taking ICT courses in the provinces of Tete, Zambézia and Nampula is larger than the number of men. Their last records show that for every 100 women there were only 64 men in Tete, and 83 in Zambézia and Nampula. In total, 60% of the trainees in the governmental Provincial Digital Resource Centres (CPRDs) and Community Multimedia Centers (CMCs) are women.

Even in areas of the economy that are much more physically demanding, such as agriculture, Mozambican women are outperforming men. Hon. José Condugua Pacheco, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, told TBY that this year women dominated the annual awards for agriculture, including the main prize, which was for the Women's Association of Zambézia Province.

In terms of education, women are also taking major steps forward. Most universities see a higher number of female students and graduates every year. Nevertheless, as Dalila Tsihlakis, Director of Ronil, explained to TBY, men still today receive a culture shock and struggle to accept orders from a woman, especially before reaching management, in mid-level positions and at the supervisor level.

Ana F. Gunde, CEO of Diamond Seguros, has applauded the efforts of the government in terms of uplifting women. “The number of women in the new cabinet has increased. There has to be a lot of encouragement in terms of educating women and removing obstacles that currently inhibit women from doing more. There is still the pervading sentiment that men can do more, so women in positions of influence need to come up with programs, seminars, or conferences whereby upcoming women are called together to share experiences and support each other. Having a role model and being able to look up to someone is invaluable. ... It is important to hear from women in top positions discussing in the media the importance of enabling all women to succeed."

The first female head of state in the African continent and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work," Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said once if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. A new generation of women in Africa is already trying to live by these words.