Gender Equality in Angola

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Flag of Angola
Population (in Mil.) 22.69
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 115.34
Sex Ratio (m/f) 1.02
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.06
Fertility Rate 5.97
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.63
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 3.7
Women in Parliament (in %) 34.1
Human Development Index 148/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 148/186
Gender Equity Index 79/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index /128
Global Gender Gap Index /68
More information on variables

Social Institutions

While the Constitution provides for equal rights between men and women, the actual situation of Angolan women remains difficult due to general poverty, displacement and patriarchal norms. The 27-year-long civil war that ended in 2002 has left many women widowed and the sole provider of income. As such, they have been forced to take on greater responsibilities in all areas of society, including those that were traditionally dominated by men. Some customary laws, however, may work against women in their efforts to become economically independent. A Secretariat of State for the Promotion and Development of Women was created in 1991. This secretariat was reinstituted as the Ministry of Family and Promotion of Women in 1997, and it is the primary government organ responsible for implementing policies to support women’s equal rights.

Family Code

The legal age of marriage is 18 years for both sexes. With parental consent and if considered to be “in the best interest” of the minor, girls can be married at the age of 15 and boys at the age of 16. Early marriages are relatively common and an estimated 36 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years are currently married, divorced or widowed. Although the law condemns polygamy, the practice is widely accepted in Angola. It is common not only for cultural reasons, but also because women often have to accept to live in polygamous relationships due to the shortage of men following years of war. The family code establishes equality between men and women in the family. It also affirms that within marriage both spouses enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same duties. While these principles extend to matters related to parental authority, it appears that in practice a mother has more duties and a father has more rights (in his traditional role as head of the household) in this respect. Angola has a large share of female-headed households due to the war and in these cases the mother is left to care for her children alone. Laws on child support are poorly enforced. A woman is legally entitled to 50 percent of the estate if her husband dies, but in practice the right to inheritance usually benefits male relatives of the deceased, thus leaving widows in a particular vulnerable position (IFAD, 2002).

Physical Integrity

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a general practice in Angola, but rare occurrences in remote areas have been reported recently. Under customary law, men have certain rights to exercise authority over their wife and daughter, and the Angolan government has not enacted specific legislation to protect women from domestic and sexual violence. As a result, the prevalence of violence against women and girls is high. Local human rights and women’s organizations reported an increase in domestic and sexual violence against women and girls in 2006, including violence against girls in the school system. As great stigma is attached to victims and because many women are unaware of their rights, assaults or rapes are rarely reported to the authorities. Women and men[1] also experienced physical and sexual violence during the war and the consequences of that violence are still felt by many. For example, victims of sexual abuse might have difficulties to regain respect and find someone willing to marry them. Even after the war, the population sex ratio in Angola is 1.02. This can possibly be seen as an indication of missing women.

Civil Liberties

Women’s freedom of movement is not restricted per se, but well limited due to security reasons. As there is no Muslim population in Angola, issues with veiled women are not relevant.

Ownership Rights

A married woman’s ownership rights depend to a large extent under which regime she is married. Under the “acquired (estates) community regime” each spouse has a limited right to independently administer his or her assets, as goods and financial resources acquired during the marriage are seen as common property. Under the “estates separation regime”, in turn, each spouse can freely administer his or her own assets. The law gives women and men equal access to land, but in practice land distribution follows traditional rules, where men are treated favorably. In addition, women’s right to use land is often overlooked when previously displaced people are settled back in rural areas. The Commercial Code required married women to have the authorization of their husband in order to run businesses, but it appears that this provision has been revoked in the Constitution (CEDAW, 2004a). As such, women have the legal right to engage in different kinds of contracts, own and manage property, as well as open bank accounts.

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women?  

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court.Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Angola, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Angola

The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database

FAO logo.jpg

The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database contains country level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights. Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families.

Six categories

The Database offers information on the 6 following Categories:

  • National legal frame
  • International treaties and conventions
  • Customary law 
  • Land tenure and related Institutions
  • Civil society organizations
  • Selected Land Related Statistics

For detailed information on Angola, please visit the report on Angola in the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.

Progress Assessment towards MDG3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Millennium Development Goal #3 is divided into three sub-categories, each of them focusing on different areas: education, employment wage and political powe

Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

With the progress made in MDG2 and a parity index of between 0.95% and 1.05% can be said that there came to be a balance in primary education in Angola. Yet at the level of secondary schooling, particularly in rural areas, there is still much work to be done to raise awareness for the rights of women and their emancipation, so that it can, in future, contribute so much more efficient as a democratization agent and development in Angola.

Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

Proportion of seats held by women in National Parliament

15% of Seats were held by women in 2007[2]. From UNDP Angola assessment, in terms of proportion of seats held in the Parliament and in decision making, Angola has been considered among the 10 countries with greater participation of women in decision making. In 2010, there is an increasing participation of women in the Parliament (44%) and in Government (33%)United Nations Development Programme Angola.MDG 3. This marks a steady progress in Angla's society toward the fulfillment of MDG3.


  1. The rape of men, The Guardina, 17.7.2011,
  2. MDG Monitor.Angola.


  • Gender and Land Rights Database
  • AFROL, Gender Profiles – Angola,
  • CEDAW (2004a), Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of States parties, Angola, CEDAW/C/AGO/4-5.
  • CEDAW (2004b), Summary record of the 655th meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.655.
  • Ducados, H. (2004), Angolan women in the aftermath of conflict, Conciliation Resources,
  • Human Rights Watch, Overview of Human Rights Issues in Angola,, accessed 9 May 2007.
  • IFAD (2002), Angola – A Review of Gender Issues in Support of IFAD’s COSOP Formulation Process and Field Diagnostic Study, Report No. 1328-AO.
  • OECD (2006), The Gender, Institutions and Development Database
  • Women, Business and the Law: Creating economic opportunity for women
  • The Gender Law Library

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