Helping women in Angola ‘believe that they can’

Helping women in Angola ‘believe that they can’

Apr 23, 2021

For Laurinda Kavole, a mother of two in Angola, the key to success is confidence. "Women need to believe in themselves,” she says. “They need to believe that they can." 

Kavole works for Ajudecove (the Youth Association for Community Development and Student Life), in Lubango, a city in the Angolan province of Huíla. Ajudecove was one of 10 civil society organisations selected to be part of “Youth4Change” project, implement by People in Need (PIN) and Ajoma, an Angolan non-profit youth association, and with funding from the European Union.

In March and early April, PIN and local partners organized activities and discussions in Huíla focused on issues related to female empowerment. The 10 groups carried out awareness raising and youth mobilisation activities in their communities. The goal was to stimulate the exchange of ideas between participants and increase their awareness about relevant themes for future actions – “such as working with women in churches, and providing training on entrepreneurship,” says Kavole.

The role of men in the quest for equality

Altino Fernando Chicolomuenho also took part in the activity in Huíla, and said that what caught his attention were the obstacles faced by women. One example: “If a girl and a boy go to school, on their return, the boy goes to his room to watch television while the girl goes to do the housework. So, there is this distinction in the treatment of children." For him, such disparity must change, because "this behaviour is inherited from previous generations, and involuntarily, people think it’s normal."

Chicolomuenho is a member of Accota, an Angolan Christian association of choreographers and theatrical performers that organises youth camps. A key aspect of these camps, says Chicolomuenho, is promoting ideas about gender equality. "We don't have anyone to cook [for the group]; the campers do all the work. [In that why], we show them that there is no ‘work for women’ or ‘work for men.” There is just work.

Deconstructing ideas that lead to inequality

In Bié province, the Youth4Change team organised a workshop on public policies for gender equality and women's financial education. At the opening session of the event, the director of the Provincial Office for Culture, Tourism, Youth, and Sports, Nelson Quintas, stressed that "gender inequality harms not only women, but also men and society in general." He added: "It is necessary to deconstruct the ideas, values, habits, and customs ingrained in our culture, the effects of which are reflected negatively in the way we treat women in society."

The PIN team also participated in a radio debate about ending domestic violence; supported a series of debates on the presence of women in the technology sector; and engaged in an activity organised by Ajoma under the theme, “Talent Identification – Young Women and Personal Development.” During that session, the coach, Vanuza Cruz, stressed that "women need to take on challenges with courage and determination."

Other projects also involved in the debate

The project “Gender in Times of COVID-19,” which aims to put women and girls at the centre of pandemic response and recovery plans, was presented in an event held in Luanda on 8 March by the Ministry of Social Action, Family, and Promotion of Woman. “The political, social, economic, professional, and cultural empowerment of women is an indispensable key for them to raise their status in all areas of development,” said Minister Faustina Alves in her opening speech.

Our colleague Ilda Ikuma attended the event and noted, in an article published by the European Union, that women’s voices still need to be heard on electoral issues. Ikuma is the supervisor of the project “Let's Vote – Stronger Voice for a Better Future,” which has activities focused on women. One of these activities was a debate with the theme “Women's Participation in Local Governments,” organised jointly with Mosaiko | Institute for Citizenship, and with the support of the European Union and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Angola.

Author: Claudia de Oliveira, PIN Angola