Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is not ranked in the 2012 SIGI due to missing data for one or more SIGI variables. However, the country note below sets out information and data relating to variables where this is available information.

The country was ranked 68 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

In 2011, the Human Development Index for Equatorial Guinea was 0.537, placing the country at 136 out of 187 countries with data.  The 2011 Human Development Report did not provide a Gender Inequality Index score for Equatorial Guinea.  

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The legal minimum age for civil marriage in Equatorial Guinea is 18 years for men and women.[6]  However, there are no age restrictions in respect to customary marriages and early marriage is quite common.[7]  However, in 2004 the government reported that it was considering a draft law to regulate customary marriages.[8]

The most recent data available on the prevalence of early marriage is from 1983 where the United Nations report estimated that 26 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[9] Pregnancy among teenage women is also reported to be common with the United Nations reporting an adolescent birth rate (number of births to women aged 15–19) of 123 per 1000 women in 2008.[10]

There is no law prohibiting or allowing polygamy in Equatorial Guinea, however the government reported in 2004 that it was an integral part of the customary law system which governed the majority of marriages.[11]

In civil or religious marriages, the spouses theoretically have the same rights and responsibilities regarding guardianship. However, customary marriages are more common and parental authority derives largely from customary law, which grants husbands virtually all rights.[12]

Child custody following divorce is governed by customary law. In some communities, any children born to the couple belonged to the father’s family until they reached the age of majority, but in the event of a separation, children under the age of seven years stayed with the mother.[13]

In most instances, customary practices dictate that if a marriage is dissolved, the wife (or her father or brother) must return the dowry given to her family by the bridegroom at the time of marriage. The government passed a decree that forbids this practice but has yet to implement it.[14]

With respect to inheritance rights, in 2004 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women raised concerns about the lack of legislation stipulating equal inheritance rights for women, particularly for those in customary marriages.[15]  In 2004, the government reported that women did not enjoy the right to inherit from their husbands. As such, the government reported that it was considering legislation to enable women to exercise their inheritance rights, particularly in the context of customary marriages.[16]  The Food and Agriculture Organisations reports that under customary practices, women become members of the husband’s family upon marriage and thus commonly have no right to inheritance.[17]

[6] CEDAW (2004b) para 36 [7] CEDAW (2004b) para 36 [8] CEDAW (2004b) para 36 [9] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) [10] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2009) [11] CEDAW (2004b) para 36 [12] CEDAW (2004c) pp.16-17 [13] CEDAW (2004b) para 36 [14] CEDAW (2004b) para 38 [15] CEDAW (2004a) 191-192 [16] CEDAW (2004b) para 39 [17] FAO (n.d.) 

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

According to the US Department of State, rape is illegal in Equatorial Guinea. However, spousal rape is not specified in the law. Sexual harassment is illegal too.[18]  In 2011, NGOs reported that a Domestic Violence Bill, has been debated 4 times since January 2009 but never passed. While it appears that domestic violence can be prosecuted under the Criminal Code, the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Equatorial Guinea in 2011 recommended that the government enact specific legislation on domestic violence.[19]

Despite the existence of legislation prohibiting violence against women, under-reporting and ineffective enforcement of laws pose significant hurdles to women’s access to justice following violence. The US Department of State reports that women commonly do not report rape due to shame in the family and that police and judiciary were reluctant to prosecute domestic violence cases.[20]  It should be noted that the government passed the Judiciary Act No. 5 in 2009 which requires family judges to be competent in any matter relating to violence against women.[21]

There is no available prevalence data on violence against women in Equatorial Guinea. However the US Department of State reports that domestic violence is a problem.[22]  In 2004, the government reported that domestic violence resulted in many women being killed. A key challenge is the broadly accepted view that men have the right to ‘discipline’ their wives. The government reports that this type of violence is associated with ‘love’ thus preventing women from making complaints or reports.[23]

Female genital mutilation is reportedly not practised in Equatorial Guinea.[24]

Having control over the timing and spacing of children is an important aspect of women’s physical integrity. In Equatorial Guinea, abortion is treated as a criminal act. It is allowed only for therapeutic reasons to save the woman’s life or preserve the woman’s health.[25]  There is no available data on the prevalence of contraception use or attitudes to family planning in Equatorial Guinea.

[18] US Department of State (2010) [19] http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G10/101/33/PDF/G1010133.pdf?OpenElement [20] US Department of State (2010) [21] United Nations General Assembly (2009) p. 10 [22] US Department of State (2010) [23] CEDAW (2004c) p.11 [24] Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) [25] United Nations Population Division (2007) 

Son Bias: 

Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for Equatorial Guinea. According to UNICEF’s data, the rate of child labour amongst boys and girls is similar. However, there is a gap between the primary school enrolment rates of boys and girls, indicating a slight preferential treatment of sons in access to education. Further, based on 2008 data, 91 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school, compared to 83 percent of girls.[26]

The Central Intelligence Agency reports that the Equatorial Guinea has a male/female sex ratio for the total population of 0.99 in 2012.[27]

There is no evidence to suggest that Equatorial Guinea is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[26] UNICEF (2009) [27] Central Intelligence Agency (2011)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

The legal position of women’s access to land in Equatorial Guinea is unclear. In 2004 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against women recommended that the government of Equatorial Guinea take steps to remove discrimination against women with respect to land ownership. This indicates that the law in relation to land ownership treats women unequally. As noted in the Family Code section, discriminatory inheritance practices that are based in customary law also restrict women’s capacity to own land.[28]

Concerning access to property other than land, women theoretically have the legal right to buy and sell property and goods.[29]  There is no information available on women’s rights to property and land in practice.

The government reports that women have equal legal rights in accessing bank loans.  In 2004, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women raised concerns about women’s access to credit in Equatorial Guinea, pointing out that structural discrimination was restricting women’s rights in this area given that although women made up half the population they owned less than 10 percent of the money in circulation.[30]  In 2004 the government reported that women’s lower incomes and lower rates of property ownership, particularly amongst rural women posed particular difficulties for women accessing credit.[31]

[28] FAO (n.d.) [29] CEDAW (2004c) p.16 [30] CEDAW (2004d) [31] CEDAW (2004b) para 23

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

In regard to freedom of movement, there is no longer a legal requirement for women to obtain permission from their husbands if they wish to travel. However, in practice, the government reports that it is generally accepted that both spouses must consent before wives travel or change their place of residence “to ensure the marital harmony”.[32]

Freedom House reports that the rights to freedom of press and freedom of association are severely restricted by the government in Equatorial Guinea.[33]  In 2010 the US Department of State reported that many associations, including several women's groups focused on economic development, were unable to gain authorisation or registered status from the government.[34]

There remain significant barriers to women’s equal participation in the public sphere in Equatorial Guinea. The 2008 election resulted in women being elected to only 10 percent of parliamentary positions.[35]

Women in Equatorial Guinea have equal rights to paid employment. Women also have a right to paid maternity leave of 12 weeks, to be paid at 75 percent of wages.[36]

[32] CEDAW (2004c) p.16 [33] Freedom House (2010) [34] US Department of State (2010) [35] Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010) [36] International Labour Organisation (2010) 


Equatorial Guinea gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. Equatorial Guinea has experienced rapid economic growth in the last decade due to large offshore oil reserves.[1]  The World Bank classifies Equatorial Guinea as a high income country.[2]

Despite formal equality in most areas of civil law, the persistence of discriminatory practices based on customary law in areas of family life and marriage poses major obstacles to women’s equality. Further, women are amongst the worst affected by poverty and the poor socio-economic conditions throughout the country are a key factor in women’s continuing inequality.[3] The situation of rural women is particularly serious, with many facing extreme poverty and a lack of access to basic services.[4]

The Constitution of Equatorial Guinea provides for equal rights for men and women.[5]  Equatorial Guinea became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1984.

In 2011, the Human Development Index for Equatorial Guinea was 0.537, placing the country at 136 out of 187 countries with data.  The 2011 Human Development Report did not provide a Gender Inequality Index score for Equatorial Guinea.  

[1] Central Intelligence Agency (2010) [2] World Bank (n.d.) [3] United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004a) para 189 [4] CEDAW (2004a) para 189 [5] Article 13(c), Basic Law of Equatorial Guinea (the Constitution) 


Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Factbook: Equatorial Guinea, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ek.html, accessed 20 November 2010.

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (n.d.) Gender and Land Rights Database, available at http://www.fao.org/gender/landrights/, accessed 20 November 2010. 

Freedom House (2010) Freedom on the World: Country Report, Equatorial Guinea, Available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=7818, accessed 20 November 2010.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2010) Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/travail/travmain.home, accessed 31 October 2010.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) Parline Database: Equatorial Guinea, available at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm, accessed 24 October 2010.

UNICEF (2009) State of the World’s Children – online data, Available at http://www.unicef.org/sowc09/statistics/statistics.php, accessed 22 October 2010.

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004a) Concluding Observations: Equatorial Guinea, A/59/38 part II, Geneva.

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004b) Thirty-first session: Summary record of the 652nd meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.652, New York.

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004c) 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: Equatorial Guinea, CEDAW/C/GNQ/4-5, New York.

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2004d) Press Release: Country Presents Periodic Report, Stressing Government’s Efforts to Ensure Equal Opportunity, WOM/1452, available at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/wom1452.doc.htm, accessed 20 November 2010.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2009) World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision, New York.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WMD2008/Main.html, accessed 10 October 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2009) Human Development Report 2009, online edition, available at http://hdrstats.undp.org, accessed 20 November 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2010) Human Development Report 2010, online edition, available at  http://hdrstats.undp.org, accessed 1 November 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.

United Nations General Assembly (2009) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, National Report Submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Equatorial Guinea, A/HRC/WG.6/6/GNQ/1, Geneva.

United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2007_Abortion_Policies_Chart/2007_WallChart.pdf, accessed 13 October 2010.

US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Equatorial Guinea, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135951.htm, accessed 20 November 2010.

World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Equatorial Guinea, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/equatorial-guinea, accessed 20 November 2010.

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf, accessed 2 March 2012.


Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Missing Women: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: