New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Angola Country Conditions: Women's Rights

In the past, there was little to be said about women in Angola except for the general assumption of the role women played across Africa. Traditionally, they were involved mostly in food production and family duties. However, their role in these two domains proved to be of immense economic benefit when compared to their male counterparts. Over the years, issues of gender-based violence and discrimination, lack of female empowerment, and inclusiveness have put reconsideration of the county's laws and reform into the limelight.

Interestingly, the country has achieved significant progress in terms of women's rights. Last year, about 30% of parliamentary seats were held by women. This and many more improvements in women's rights are based on Article 35 in the country's constitution, which clearly states that both genders shall enjoy equal status and rights within the family and society. In this article, we shall look at Angola's conditions in terms of women's rights. But much more has to be done to achieve true equality. “Under the constitution and law, women enjoy the same rights and legal status as men. The government, however, did not enforce the law effectively, and societal discrimination against women remained a problem, particularly in rural areas. Customary law prevailed over civil law, particularly in rural areas, and at times had a negative effect on a woman’s legal right to inherit property.”US DOS Human Rights Report, 2021.

Women's Tenure Rights and Land Reform

After freedom, the next pivotal right that every human should have is the right to possess what is legally obtained. Since Angola is a post-war country, a vast majority of the populace is still stuck to traditional beliefs in terms of land ownership and inheritance. Women that lay claim to properties are most times under constant threat of forceful eviction, especially in informal settlements. The country's weak land tenure has been strengthened to create a more protective and inclusive approach for females to own land and inherit properties.

Freedom of Speech, Political Inclusion, and Peaceful Assembly

The country's 2010 law states that both genders have freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. However, certain practices, like accusing women of witchcraft without a fair hearing, are common in the state. In fact, police often do not want to interfere in cases like this due to spiritual concerns.

In terms of economic inclusion, some jobs are not reserved for women as a result of an executive decree. These societal discriminations often occur outside of cities where the law has little to no enforcement.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights

According to the state's constitution, the nation must take steps to provide access to primary healthcare and universal health coverage. Every citizen will be accorded equal treatment and have access to child, maternal, and geriatric care as needed. Developing health facilities, regulating pharmaceutical services, and conducting medical research shall also be within the state's purview.

Abortion is prohibited under particular women's rights laws; however, it is permitted in some circumstances, such as when the woman's life is in danger due to pregnancy. There are revisions being considered to this legislation that would permit abortions up to 24 weeks.

In this nation, the rights of sexual minorities like the LGBTQ community are still largely unprotected. There are concerns about how these laws are not in line with international best practices. Another pertinent subtopic here is HIV. Women suffer the highest burden of the virus in terms of population in Africa. Some studies note that young females in sub-Saharan Africa are up to eight times more likely to contract the virus than men.

Sexual assault against women, inaccurate information about sexual rights, social shame, and cultural customs are some of the causes of this preventable bias. Rape is punishable in the country, but enforcing the rule is often met with impediments such as limited resources. The same is true with sexual harassment, which is widespread and legally punished as defamation rather than an unlawful act.

Right to Education and Literacy

In the past, the traditional norms in Angola stated that the girl child was bound to grow up, marry, and only serve her household. As such, when girls attend school, they feel societal pressure to drop out since their role in society is limited to their homes. However, the narrative is now changing as every girl child and woman has an equal right to literacy and education at all levels. As a result, young women in Angola are getting more exposed and empowered as their population in schools increases. Girls' education in the country rose from thirty-five to seventy-eight percent between 2000 and 2011.

In a bid to make every woman in Angola well informed about her literacy rights, several independent campaigns like the "back to school" program have been instituted all over the country.

A final word

Even though women participate immensely in the Angolan economy and societal growth, there's still much room for improvement and the follow-up of constitutional rights. A step in the right direction is the creation of the Ministry for Family and Women, which has helped create a clear distinction between women's issues and political agenda.

The downside to this ministry is that it's underfunded, which makes it difficult for its administrators to make tangible headway. The bottom line is that there's a need for more inclusiveness and the translation of written laws into sustainable practices.

30 November 2022
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