Women in the Unchanging Equatorial Guinea
Women in the Unchanging Equatorial GuineaMarch 9, 2017
Gender-based violence and discrimination against women are endemic in Equatorial Guinea despite international commitments made by the government.
(Washington DC, March 9, 2017) Despite the lofty international commitments made by the government in its last report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women-CEDAW, women and girls in Equatorial Guinea continue to face inequality and discrimination. Moreover, the government recently introduced a controversial measure that denies young girls access to education and heightens pregnancy-related deaths.
In 2012, the government agreed to implement several reforms to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women, including by developing a national strategic plan and enacting a bill that would collect comprehensive date and provide adequate assistance to victims. The government has not fulfilled these commitments, and a draft law is still pending. In its 2015 report on the Millennium Development Goals, the government recognized the low rate of participation by women in the labor force, overall, the report found, only 39% of women work in either the formal or informal sector.” Furthermore, the report also noted that 77.5% of women are impacted by poverty, a higher percentage than men [75.9%].
In March 2016, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality launched a weeklong program that included a conversation on the empowerment of women in diverse places and contexts, but did not directly address violence. Furthermore, there is still no government program to assist victims.
The, in July 2016, the Ministry of Education issued a ministerial order requiring schoolgirls to submit the results of a pregnancy test, prior to enrollment. Pregnant students were to be turned away by the school authorities. The adverse effects of the order were immediately apparent, as teens were forced to seek abortions in “inhuman conditions,” which has led to at least one documented case of death.
Gender-based violence and discrimination against women are endemic in Equatorial Guinea, as highlighted by the most recent State Department report. There have been numerous reports of security forces abusing women with impunity. In a 2011 report, the government noted that domestic violence continues to be very high; 63% of women 15 and older have suffered some form of violence, and 32% have been victims of sexual violence.
Equatorial Guinea must take immediate and concrete steps to end the systematic violence against women that permeates all sectors in the country and ensure there is a comprehensive policy towards the realization of women’s empowerment and equality. No girl should be discriminated against and denied access to education.