The Republic of Mozambique is located in the Southeast coast of Africa and has an estimate population of 30.8 million (15.9 women and 14.8 men) of which 66.6% live in rural areas. The country is endowed with a wealth of resources with potential to propel inclusive socio-economic development, namely ample arable land, water, mineral resources including oil and gas and a large potential pool of labor. Two thirds of the population are below 25 years old. The country is the third most exposed to climate events and prone to natural disasters in Africa.
Mozambique has been recording significant progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment following ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1997 and as part of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and other global policy frameworks. As a result, 83.3% of legal frameworks which promote, enforce and monitor gender equality, with a focus on violence against women, are in place and women hold 39.2% of seats in parliament and 50% Ministerial positions.
However, there is yet a lot to be done for gender equality to be achieved and women’s rights fulfilled since Mozambique scored 0.523, ranking 127 out of 162 countries in the 2019 GII. The evidence of persistent gender disparities remain poignant: only 14% of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education compared to 19.9 percent of their male counterparts, 52.9% of women aged 20–24 years old are in a union before age 18. In 2018, 43% of women 15-49 years reported that they had been subject to sexual violence and 24% physical violence respectively, mainly perpetrated by current and former intimate partner in the previous 12 months. Only 6% of women are in paid employment compared to 24% of men. Women are virtually absent in the peace negotiations. Adolescent girls and young women in the age group of 15 to 24 years old represent 30% of all new HIV infections in the country, despite forming only 10% of the country’s total population. Every hour 3 adolescent girls and young women, aged 15 to 24 years old, are infected by HIV, whereas 1 adolescent boy or young man is infected. Every 20 minutes, an adolescent girl, and young woman is newly infected by HIV in Mozambique. 2.1 million people live with HIV, of which 63% are women and adolescent girls (UNAIDS Spectrum Estimates, 2021). Like elsewhere in the world, the patriarchal social norms are the greatest hindrance to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Mozambique. Data gaps also impairs effective monitoring of progress towards SDGs achievement.
In recent years, Mozambique has been affected by a confluence of complex factors which further impinge on gender equality gains. These include an intermittent military tension in the central since 2016, regular occurrence of extreme climate events since 2019’s cyclones IDAI and Kenneth and escalation of violent extremism in the Northern province of Cabo-Delgado spilling over to Nampula and Niassa Provinces. These situations not only put a dent on agriculture which is the most important source of livelihoods for most Mozambicans living in rural areas but also resulted in 946,508 internally displaced people with an estimate 52% being women . All these challenges were over-exacerbated by the outbreak of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic in 2020. Studies have established that this scenario has heightened the potential of regression of gender equality gains including reinforcement of stereotypes as women impacted by natural disasters and violence extremism have become more likely to have their education curtailed, and dignity impaired due to exposure to gender-based violence including sexual abuse and exploitation.
In a development context marked by an ever growing climate and conflict related humanitarian situation, amidst ongoing peace consolidation and COVID19 pandemic, the Country Office in Mozambique has realigned its interventions within the focus areas of EVAW, WEE, WPS as well as on normative and coordination. This was done with a view to further reinforce a programmatic and integrated approach and reflect the triple nexus of humanitarian-peace-development to maximize resilience building and the potential of social norms transformation of interventions in the areas of i) prevention and response to violence against women and girls ii) economic empowerment of women, particularly young women and girls, and iii) enhance the participation of women in development, peace, leadership, security and humanitarian efforts.
On EVAW, the CO focus on enhancing the capacity of government and CSOs particularly at the local level, to provide essential services to survivors or at risk of violence and addressing the underpinning patriarchal masculinities through social mobilization targeting community and traditional leaders, addressing the intersectionalities between gender and HIV & AIDS, promoting a gender-responsive planning and budgeting and gender statistics. On WEE, the CO focus on entrepreneurship development and job creation through skills building, technical and vocational training and education, financial literacy, creation of saving and loan groups, provision of productive assets and seed funding and business coaching harnessing the power of technology (e.g. African Girls Can Code) to enable them to address their basic needs while building resilience to current and future shocks. WEE interventions are implemented both as a stand-alone initiatives, and as an integral part of comprehensive projects in the areas of elimination of violence against women and girls (Ex: under the Spotlight Initiative, humanitarian action, and women peace and security) with the ultimate goal of responding to the economic dimension of inequalities, contributing to reduce women and girls vulnerability while unleashing their decision making power for transformative results. This is further complemented by the CO’s initiative on Gender-Responsive Procurement (GRP). With regards to WPS & HA, besides supporting capacity building and engagement of women in conflict resolution and increased participation in peace build efforts at the local level, the CO also invests in social mobilization of community leaders to support women’s participation in peacebuilding and decision-making in general at the local level. The CO promotes a gender-responsive humanitarian action and works to that women lead and benefit from humanitarian relief and recovery efforts including empowering displaced women and girls to be active players in planning, designing, building and maintaining adequate, accessible, safe and resilient resettlement housing in fragile and conflict-affected areas; facilitate women and girls' access to sustainable livelihoods and socioeconomic opportunities; and increase conflict-affected women and girls’ access to effective services and protection mechanisms. In all thematic areas the CO supports the alignment of national legal and policy frameworks with global norms and standards including through UN coordination and capacity strengthening of the gender machinery as well as of the legislative and institutions such as the Parliament to perform their coordination and oversight roles on gender. The CO leverages its comparative advantage to build very strong advocacy and knowledge hub on the global norms and Generation Equality in order to hold accountable the Government, the Women Leaders and Youth Feminist Movement, the UN, Development Partners, CSOs and CBOs, Private Sector and for concrete gender transformative agenda at all levels, especially in the context of humanitarian action and Climate related issues, COVID-19 and Conflict.
The CO Programme is implemented in partnership with the Government Institutions, Civil Society Organizations, Women and young women movements, academic institutions and private sector, UN Sister Agencies and thanks to generous contributions of the EU as well as the Governments of Iceland, the Kingdom of Norway, Sweden, Canada, Japan, Korea and Belgium.