Mozambique: Women's representation quotas

Updated March 2008

Legal quotas

There are no constitutional or legal provisions for quotas to ensure adequate representation of women in publicly elected bodies in Mozambique. The Constitution (1990, Articles 66, 67) recognizes formal equality between men and women before the law in respect of right and duties and in all spheres of life and outlaws and makes punishable actions that generate privilege or discrimination on the basis of sex (amongst other things; Article 69). Moreover, the Constitution (1990, Article 57) goes further and tasks the state with ensuring the substantive equality of women: "The State shall promote and support the emancipation of women, and shall provide incentives to increase the role of women in society… The State recognizes the value of, and shall encourage, the participation of women in the defence of the country and in all spheres of the country's political, economic, social and cultural activity".

Despite the absence of legal quotas, Mozambique has led the way in Southern Africa in advancing the representation of women. Already in 1994, with the first multi-party elections, women's representation in the National Assembly reached 25.2% and has continued to climb with 29.2% attained in 1999 and 35.6% in 2004 (see Women's representation in the National Assembly). This level is unmatched in Southern Africa and only South Africa at 32.75% comes close (see Gender issues: Women's representation in the Lower House of Parliament).

Party quotas

The high level of women's representation is attributable to the combination of the proportional representation system and the adoption of a high quota for women's representation by the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO). In 1994 FRELIMO adopted a policy of ensuring that 30% of candidates for the National Assembly and local government were women, raised the quota level to 35% and then to 40% for the 2004 election; moreover women candidates were distributed throughout proportional representation lists and not merely appended to the bottom where they had slight chance of success (Sitoe et al 2005, 32; Kethusegile-Juru 2002, 7; Nuvunga 2005, 51). In 1994 women formed 37.2% of FRELIMO's members of the National Assembly, in 1999 38.3% and in 2004 43.12% (Osório 2007, 76).

The other major political party, the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) does not use quotas and believes that they would hinder the party in its work since unqualified women would be advanced by them (Nuvunga 2005, 50). In 1994 12.5% of its deputies to the National Assembly were women; in 1999 this rose to 19.4% and in 2004 to 22.2% (Osório 2007, 76).

Women's representation at local level has been lower than at national level. In 1998 (these elections were boycotted by RENAMO and other smaller opposition parties) 29% of in municipal assembly seats went to women and only one of 33 mayorships (Nuvunga 2005, 50). In the 2003 local government elections of the 33 mayors one woman was elected to the position and the situation deteriorated when only 21.95% of councillors elected were women (EISA Mozambique Field Office 2008).




KETHUSEGILE-JURU, BM 2002, "Intra-Party Democracy and the Inclusion of Women" [PDF], IN Workshop: Electoral Perspectives and the Process of Democratization in DRC: Lessons from SADC, EISA.

OSÓRIO, C 2007 Subverting power? Gender analysis of the 2004 legislative elections in Mozambique, WLSA Mozambique.

SITOE, EJ, MATSIMBE, Z & PEREIRA, AF 2005, "Gender Equality" IN Parties and Political Development in Mozambique [PDF], EISA research Report 22.

NUVUNGA, A (ed) 2005, "Gender and Democracy" IN Multiparty Democracy in Mozambique: Strengths, Weaknesses and Challenges [PDF], EISA research Report 14, 45-55.