In all age groups, women have higher unemployment rates than men. These figures are heavily influenced by the fact that women are, for the most part, the “engines” of household work.
To complete our analysis of the profile of unemployment among women, it is important to point out that the absence of sustained growth per capita, owing to low rates of investment and the serious deficiencies in the government and private sector, are some of the causes of the generally poor situation in which women, who represent the majority of Angola’s population, find themselves.
7.6Remuneration: Minimum and Maximum Wages and Salaries
The Constitution of Angola does not permit any kind of discrimination and lays down the general principles of equality of rights and duties for all citizens, regardless of sex, parentage, political affiliation, color, or religion.
The growing tendency for each household or family group to have more than one breadwinner may be a result of the increase in the cost of living associated with a constant decline in the purchasing power of wages and salaries, subject to the brutal effects of high rates of inflation that keeps more people from entering the labor market. The introduction presented in the first paragraph of this subchapter serves to portray an identical situation for both men and women.
In government employment under the general regime, both men and women earn at least KZR* 7,965,000.00, and the maximum salary is KZR 70,685,000.00.
These pay scales are equivalent to about US$20 for the lowest salary, and US$180 for the highest salary, using the official exchange rate of US$100 = KZR 26,800,000.00. Note that on the parallel market, US$100 is equivalent, as of the date of this report, to KZR 43.000,000.00.
For executive positions, the minimum and maximum salaries are KZR 70,755,000.00 and KZR 77,830,500.00 for supervisory positions, and KZR 91,981,500.00 and KZR 160,132,500.00 for managerial positions.
7.7Constitutional and Legislative Measures
The severe economic difficulties this country has experienced in recent years is seriously reflected in the standard of living of most of the population, especially the most vulnerable groups (children, women, and the elderly). These difficulties are the result of years of warfare, and of socioeconomic systems that are unsuited to certain situations. Recently, structural adjustment programs have to some extent exacerbated the existing difficulties, although though such programs appear to be necessary for future economic and social survival.
The participation by women in high-level decision-making bodies within the present Government of National Unity and Reconciliation; the creation of the Ministry of Family Affairs and Advancement of Women to replace the former Ministry for Advancement of Women; the fact that women head four cabinet ministries (Culture, Petroleum, Fisheries, and Family Affairs) and hold several vice-ministerial posts (two in the Ministry of Planning, two in the Ministry of Education, one in the Ministry of Social Reintegration, one in the Ministry of Postal Affairs and Communications, one in the Ministry of Family Affairs, and one in the Ministry of Health), not to mention the various managerial positions in large, strategically-important state-owned and private enterprises, are some of the factors that lead us to believe that the active role of women in Angolan society is beginning to become more visible.
However, at the local level, one observes an absence of concrete measures in favor of women, including rural women. The wide variety of institutions created are general in scope, which in some ways pushes women into the informal sector because of the discrimination and the unfair competition present in those institutions; however, a contributing factor is that the women involved are inadequately prepared for these jobs.
Shortly after independence, private health-care institutions were abolished and replaced by free medical services. Law 9, of 1975, established national health services and set health policy, which placed priority on preventive care and curative care for the most vulnerable sectors of the population, namely, women and children. However, it was not until 1989 that the first operational five-year plan for maternal and child health care was launched.
8.1Health Policy and Health Care System/Maternal and Child Health
Maternal and child mortality should be one of the priority concerns of health policy and the health care system in Angola. Improving the health of children paves the way for improved health when they reach adulthood.
Improving the health of mothers and their children entails adoption of the following measures:
Strengthening the services that provide instruction in sanitation and infant care
Strengthening and increasing the availability of prenatal medical consultations
Intensifying and improving the training of persons responsible for maternal and child care (including traditional midwives)
Extension of vaccination campaigns against the principal communicable diseases (measles, tetanus, diphtheria) to cover all the country’s children
Expansion and extension of nutritional programs, including information on breast-feeding and child nutrition
Nationwide promotion and dissemination of information on oral rehydration therapy
Integration of services oriented toward family planning, with a view to increasing the birth interval
Increasing the number of clinics and maternal and child care centers.
8.2Fertility, and Infant Mortality Rate
The total fertility rate in Angola is one of the highest in the world, which creates serious health problems. Therefore, birth spacing is a strategic element that could help improve the health of the mothers of our children.
In fact, the high rate of clandestine abortions, which is abhorrent to many people’s consciences, justifies the promotion of family planning as a means of prior, rational choice of family size. The following actions are advocated for this purpose:
Strengthening and improving information and communications programs to disseminate knowledge about contraceptive methods and the possibilities in terms of birth spacing
Strengthening and improving educational programs on population matters, in order to make the public aware of the medical, health, socioeconomic, and social and cultural benefits of family planning
Launching of periodic campaigns to explain the risks of early pregnancy and the benefits of responsible parenthood.
Angola is considered as the region in the South African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) that has the highest maternal and child mortality rate.
In December 1990, the Ministry of Health reported that it had found an infant mortality rate of 160 per thousand in the first year of life. A 1986 study revealed that in the city of Luanda, the mortality rate for children in the outskirts of the city was 38% higher than in the more developed urban areas.
Angola also has a disastrous maternal mortality rate. In 1988, the mortality rate recorded at health facilities nationwide was calculated at 665 per hundred thousand, or 6.7%. There is a big difference in maternal mortality rates among provinces.
Maternal and child mortality in Angola is related to the poor general health of its women, caused by poor nutrition, infections, parasitic diseases, and the lack of adequate primary health care, especially in areas adjacent to cities, and rural areas.
8.3Teen Pregnancy and Family Planning
In 1989, approximately 80% of pregnant women in Luanda sought prenatal care, and 70% of them were vaccinated against tetanus. The prenatal mortality rate for Luanda was 75-80 per thousand, and there were more than 5,000 recorded cases of neonatal tetanus.
Family planning programs in Angola were started in 1986. As of November 1990, there were more than 30 family planning clinics in Angola, and plans had been made to open four more such clinics and six delivery rooms in Luanda Province.
In Luanda, family planning advice is currently provided at two maternity clinics and four health centers. There were plans to raise to 19 the number of health centers providing such consultation by the end of last year.
In 1989, there were 9,122 new cases in Luanda that received counseling, which corresponds to 3% of the city’s population profile.
According to 1989 Ministry of Health estimates, 72,400 women in Angola between the ages of 15 and 49 were using contraceptives. This figure corresponds to 3.3% of the total number of women in this age bracket. Luanda has the highest rate of contraceptive use, while five provinces (Kuanza Norte, Lunda Norte, Moxico, Uíge, and Zaire) have a usage rate of less than 1%.
Teen pregnancy is found in all socioeconomic classes. Although it is difficult to obtain statistics on the extent of teen pregnancy, the context in which it occurs is different in the urban and rural areas. In rural areas, it is not unusual for girls of 15 to have children. In many traditional societies, women marry early, and having children before marriage increases the likelihood that they will marry. Teen pregnancy in many cases occurs within the girl’s own family.
Abortion is still considered a crime in Angola. Usually this kind of abortion is sought most often by adolescent girls who become pregnant without their parents’ knowledge.
Clandestine abortions usually take place in locations that lack even basic hygiene and are often performed by people who do not have even a minimum of training in the procedure. This means that medical problems develop that are difficult to cure, such as infections, genital trauma, perforation of the uterus and intestines and, sometimes, sterility. From January to July 1991, the Augusto Ngangula Maternity Clinic in Luanda recorded 11 cases of death from complications of clandestine abortions. During that same period, the hospital performed 403 authorized abortions and treated 139 patients who had spontaneous abortions, for a total of 553 abortions. Most abortions occurred in cases where continuation of the pregnancy was deemed a threat to the health of the mother. Some abortions were authorized owing to failure of family planning methods, or very short intervals between pregnancies.
8.5Measures to Improve Health Care Services
The specific objectives of the government’s two-year program in the health care field for 1995-96 were to:
1.Increase services coverage in accessible suburban and rural areas;
2.Improve health care service management.
In order to achieve these objectives, the government assigned priority to the following actions:
Reducing maternal mortality by improving follow-up during pregnancy
Improving the water and sewer system
Assisting the physically handicapped
Reinforcing epidemiological vigilance by establishing regional laboratories and improving the surveillance mechanisms
Improving the organizational structure and operations of sanitation units
Improving personnel training and management by adopting a policy of continuous training, until their integration into the national health system, in teaching methods as applied to health subjects and in human resources planning.
9.Economic and Social Life
The socioeconomic status of women in Angola can be described as characterized by a certain imbalance in the sharing of tasks and responsibilities between the sexes. Usually, women find themselves in a situation where they must keep the family afloat without having the same powers and rights as men. Women struggle with the problems of maintaining the education and survival of members of the household; this is due mainly to two factors: on the one hand, the socioeconomic situation in this country, which leads to an “inequitable” distribution of the means of survival within the home and, on the other, male underestimation of women, which means a woman is disdained by the man and marginalized within her own family.
Despite a certain dynamism and energy and other aspects, women as a socioeconomic factor in economic matters related to the informal market, in which they are the great majority, may in the future be compromised. This is because some of the cultural issues in Angolan society have a strong palliative force within the community of the family, whether we are in the rural or the urban areas. The effect of this is a possible decline in certain education indicators among women. The tendency to abandon schooling during elementary school, and the dropout rate among persons over the age of 10 may come to be a truly negative indicator for the future of this country.
The abandonment of education, caused by early—and often unwanted—pregnancies or because in this society girls or boys must do housework and/or care for younger siblings may be associated with the fact that generally, household income is extremely low (61% of households in five major Angolan cities are below the poverty line) and in these cases the head of the household seeks ways to relieve poverty by selecting those members of the household who are to be allowed to attend school. In general, the girls are relegated to the traditional role of housewife.
As in the case of education, the problem of women’s health has also been exacerbated by the war. Women’s health is extremely fragile, especially in the rural areas, and is characterized by indicators that are of concern to Angolan society: the high fertility rate, (about 6.8 children per woman in the urban areas, 7 children in the rural areas, and 6.9 children nationwide); the high mortality rate among infants and children (about 274 per thousand live births nationwide); low levels of immunization of children, etc.
9.1Availability of Credit for Women
The problems of economic facility in relation to the real needs of the population (ordinary citizens, businessmen, etc.) is something that significantly impacts Angolan women. Data from the Ministry of Labor (MAPESS) for 1993 indicate the relative participation of women in the various sectors of the economy. And so, in production sectors, we find: industry, 17%; construction, 11%; formal commerce, 25%; and agriculture and fishing, 26%. In the “non-production” sectors: community services, 28%; education and science, about 36%; culture and art, 49%; public administration, 29%; health care services, about 42%. These figures reflect women’s growing participation in the economic and social life of this country.
In recent years, women have organized and formed associations on the basis of occupational and economic criteria. The emergence of this kind of feminine organization has played a positive role in projecting and defending the interests of women. The influx of women into the informal sector of the economy, which by definition means they are not registered, have no established place of business, do not pay taxes, and are to some extent persecuted by the authorities, has a negative impact on the possibilities for organizing--opportunities already scarce in terms of training and access to the means of production and to markets.
The problem of bank credit, although widespread throughout Angolan society, falls heaviest on the economic activities of women, who struggle with special difficulties because they often do not have the collateral that lenders require.
9.2Women and Disability
The transformation of Angola into a free and democratic state has contributed to the rise of an egotistical society. Physical handicaps are readily observable throughout this country. It is hard to draw distinctions between the sexes on this subject, because both face the very same problems. Angola has no practical legal instrument that would help the handicapped, particularly handicapped girls and women, to protest discrimination against them.
Data from the most recent survey conducted nationwide by the National Institute of Statistics in 1996 shows that about 2.1% of the female population in Angola has some kind of physical handicap. Although high, this rate is lower than the 3.7% found among men.
It is significant that the disability rate among rural women is 2.5%, higher than the 1.7% found for urban women. This is a result of the many years of warfare that this country has suffered.
Because of pressure from organizations devoted to assisting this segment of society, government agencies are beginning to react positively, but not sufficiently so as to meet the need.
This area of community life in Angola is perhaps one of those that has suffered the most from the country’s precarious economic and financial situation. This is because the central government budget allocates only minimum funding to sports and to youth organizations.
This introductory comment serves to demonstrate that recreational activities in this country depend on the existing conditions. However, the ladies have managed, within this bleak picture, to carve out a little space for themselves on the podium, where they are being congratulated by the entire nation. In handball, basketball, track and field, and swimming, Angolan women have made a name for this country on foreign soil.
Special prominence is given to women’s handball where, both at the individual team level and the national all-star levels, Angola has won three African titles and places of distinction at the world level.
However, the circumstances described earlier in this report are like the trees that hide the forest, since the situation is critical. Once the main breeding ground for athletes, the schools are experiencing many problems, particularly the poor condition of their sports facilities. In addition, there are problems in getting girls interested in playing sports.
Because of the dawn of a “society of convenience,” the clubs are unable to attract future athletes, and so one can see that active participation in sports has declined in quantity and quality in our country.
This section of the report can be said to be the “twin sister” of the sports section. The conditions appear to be the same. The women who are involved in this area struggle to continue with the scant resources they are given. It was a landmark event when the post of Minister of Culture was given to a women, and this should perhaps inspire the others to apply themselves more diligently.
Some of women’s most significant appearances are in the area of “show biz,” especially music, dance, and the theater. Women of a certain academic background or educational level have shown interest in the cultural life and history of this country. This country has gained prominence from the participation of various intellectuals in preparing a blueprint for the creation of a more civic-minded society in which moral standards have a place.
There may be some concern about the younger generation, which has turned toward other cultures. There is a certain tendency to adopt foreign values. The influence of countries of “easy” access brings with it habits and customs that often have nothing to do with Angolan customs and habits. Under these circumstances, girls are easy prey; the dictates of fashion from surrounding areas have transformed Angolan ways of dress and taken away its unique originality.
Respect for and adoption of the Angolan culture must also be promoted by the schools, and involves increasing the educational level of girls, which, as we have seen, is lower at all levels than for boys. It is urgent that the central government find ways to make our culture more visible, to exploit it and transmit it to other parts of the globe; Angolan women could be the vector of transmission.
10.The Rural Woman
To talk about the Angolan countryside without making specific reference to rural women is to suggest that they be omitted from the broad mosaic of the situation that is developing in this country, that encompasses the non-urbanized zones near cities, as well as an important number of ethno-linguistic, cultural and social values that we have mentioned, differences that, therefore, deserve a certain deference.
Throughout Africa, rural women play multiple roles that range from motherhood, child-raising, production of goods and services (supplying or fetching water, food, and energy to be able to process the foods) providing health care for family members (especially the children), to exhausting housework--in short, a myriad of tasks, none of them remunerated. In Angola, these tasks are made more arduous by the difficulties endemic to rural areas, where almost nothing is within the reach of the communities.
The fact that all these tasks we have mentioned are not computed as family income has as a consequence (heightened in part by the lack of education on the part of the male partner) an increase in domestic violence against women in the event of any worsening in the family’s economic situation. The conflicts are almost always due to disputes over the distribution of family income to meet the needs of the household.
10.1The Condition of the Rural Woman
Women in rural communities do not perform only the domestic tasks that are vital to the survival of the family. In Angola, they are an important part of the farm labor force, and that’s not all. Rural communities face a number of problems caused by different factors (the war, drought, lack of proper farm tools and/or more modern tools, lack of support, etc.) that cannot be solved merely by the isolated actions of men. It is urgent and necessary that women be chosen to serve on the committees charged with ameliorating the problems.
The organization of women into groups in rural areas could enable the heads of those groups to be treated, as a matter of course, as participants in the projects to be implemented by the community. This approach could make it easier to develop better conditions for rural women, a situation that, at present, is being somewhat neglected.
Since the development of this country is an objective shared by all Angolans and since the Angolan man is, in general, the principal target of that process, we must not forget that, overall, almost 60% of the “Angolan man” consists of women, the same proportion of women who live in rural areas. Therefore, development in Angola must involve the rural areas and must focus primarily on improving conditions for rural women.
10.2Programs to Benefit Rural Women
As is true of any other segment of Angolan society, the rural community of women cannot develop itself in isolation without the intervention and active participation of the entity that executes state policy, i.e., the government.
The Government of National Unity and Reconciliation, acting through the Ministry of Family Affairs and advancement of Women, has developed a project to assist underprivileged women, especially rural women, who are among those most victimized by the situation of poverty in this country. Some 67% of households in Angola are below the poverty line. The Ministry’s project is entitled “Microcredit.”
The problem has long been a concern of that Ministry, which in 1992 initiated a far-reaching project to support rural women, an effort that, unfortunately, had to be abandoned with the renewed outbreak of the war after 1992.
After the First Lady of Angola attended the Stockholm Summit, it became urgent to implement a broad program of support to rural women, under the United Nations resolutions aimed at eradicating poverty by the year 2005. This program focuses mainly on the local level and has moved from the humanitarian context to the development context. In it, women themselves can carry out their own activities with the support of the Government—in this case, the Ministry of Family Affairs and Advancement of Women.
In addition to government efforts, there are governmental and non-governmental organizations that support women with development programs that are aimed at fostering opportunities for women to govern themselves and become economically independent, enabling them to obtain and control productive resources, among which are opportunities for education.
The purpose of these programs is to help redistribute resources in favor of women, but to accomplish this it is vital that the women covered by these projects have opportunities to exercise an influence over them.
10.3Access to Services
Access to housing, water, school, health clinics—these are among the elements necessary to maintain equilibrium in the family and the community. The great majority of rural women, like the other residents of rural areas, live in homes of traditional design, built of local materials (wattle and daub, palm fronds and other leaves, manure, etc.).
In rural areas, water is obtained from rivers, creeks, springs, rainwater/drainpipes. Obviously, because of ingrained habits and a lack of proper instruction, rural women do not treat the water they drink, and most houses in rural areas do not have latrines or bathrooms. Most families take care of their needs outdoors.
Access to school is also very difficult in rural areas. There are many reasons why families do not send their children to school. One of the principal reasons is the distance they would have to travel to school; another is the need for children to help with household tasks.
10.4Rural Women and Technology
The importance of proven technology to rural women is highlighted by the increase of support to the rural economy. As we have seen in preceding subchapters, women are not engaged solely in domestic tasks. They usually work in the fields, growing the products, while men go out and sell them. In this regard, appropriate technical means must be made available as part of the support of rural women, but taking into account the specific needs in each region, since there are regional differences in how a certain product is grown.
To make the work of rural women more profitable and less exhausting means placing at her disposal a series of preconditions, such as access to technological resources and access to financial resources.
Access to the technical means of increasing productivity requires observing the conditions faced by the rural woman and the poor female peasant. She will need tractors, carts, good plows—in short, reorganizing her farm work will not only solve her problem but it will also contribute to increasing production and productivity and will create more wealth. Therefore, the role of extension workers or facilitators working with communities of rural women in the transmission of experiences and techniques is of great importance.
10.5Economic Situation and Access to the Means of Production
The economic situation in the rural areas, especially that of rural women, is critical. It exhibits the same trends as the country’s overall situation, but is separate from the mainstream. Rural women need all kinds of support and resources for production. The material presented in the preceding subchapters concerning rural women shows the state in which this segment of Angolan society finds itself. The requisite human capital exists, it need only be given the proper attention; efforts must be made to improve living conditions.
In the countryside, as in the city, unequal gender relations deepen poverty and increase dependency among women. Rural poverty weakens the agricultural social milieu and works to diminish the exemplary solidarity that traditionally exists in rural families and communities in Angola. The absence not only of markets but also of manufactured products, is the biggest problem affecting rural women today. Moreover, transportation and communications are the backbone of any economy, whether rural or urban, therefore their role in rural areas is a vital one.
10.6Government Policy on Agriculture and Rural Development
One of the biggest concerns of the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation must be the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector, and so it must proceed with sets of actions in favor of rural women. In 1994, the government took a series of actions that were intended to put farming back on track.
Attempts were made to develop projects on raising poultry in primitive coops, on seed propagation, and on the establishment of plant nurseries for fruit trees and for production of energy from wood. These projects were described as short-term and medium-term.
Other, long-term, projects have been committed to paper and now await financing from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) and international partners.
The deterioration of the political situation in the wake of the first free elections led to the postponement of many of these projects. At present, one of the most advanced projects seems to be the one on “Microcredit,” now being implemented in some towns in the provinces of Luanda and Bengo.
Removal of all land mines from Angola would, of course, permit revitalization of the agricultural sector since it will, logically, attract a lot of investment based on the rationale that Angola is a potentially rich country where about 60% of its population is rural, composed in its majority of women, over half of them under the age of 16.
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Maria Mpava Medina. Jurist and National Director for Women’s Rights, Ministry of Family Affairs and Advancement of Women.
Pulquéria Van-Dúnem Bastos. Attorney.
Idalinda Neto Rodrigues. Attorney and Coordinator of the Dynamizing Unit of the Center for Womens’ Rights, and the Legal Advice Centers of the Organization of Angolan Women.
Carlinhos Zassala. Holder of a PhD in Social Psychology and the Personality from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Associate Professor at the Agostinho Neto University, and president of the Angolan Association of Psychologists.
João Baptista Lukombo Nzatuzola, Sociologist. Holder of a master’s degree from IUED, Geneva, Switzerland. Lecturer and Researcher at the Higher Institute of Educational Sciences (ISCED); Secretary of International Relations, AASA.
Camilo Simão F. de Ceita, National Institute of Statistics. Holder of a PhD in Geographical Science. Consultant to the Agostinho Neto University.