Mozambique is ranked 39 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
The country was ranked 77out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
In 2011, the Human Development Index for Mozambique was 0.322, placing the country at 184 out of 187 countries. For the Gender Inequality Index Mozambique received a score of 0.602, placing the country at 125 out of 146 countries with data. In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked Mozambique 26 out of 135 countries in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Report, with a score of 0.7251 where 0 represents inequality and 1 represents equality
The Family Law Act was adopted in 2004, which set the minimum legal age for marriage at 18 years for both men and women. Exceptionally, marriage can be authorised from the age of 16 years, in the event of pregnancy or with consent of the parents or legal representatives. Marriage requires the consent of both adults with the family law stating that marriage is a voluntary union.
The United Nations reports, based on 2003 data, that 43 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed in Mozambique, compared to 3 percent of boys in the same age range. In 1980, 52 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed which indicates that societal acceptance of early marriage is slowly declining. Early marriage is far more common in rural areas, compared to urban areas. In 2005, UNICEF reported that 85 percent of 15 -19 year old women in a union were in a rural area, compared to 15 percent living in an urban area.
Polygamy is prohibited by Mozambican law, but the Family Code contains no penal measures to prevent it. Polygamous unions are a common customary practice. A 2003 Demographic and Health Survey found that 24 percent of married women were in a polygamous marriage. This represents a slight decrease from 1997 where 27 percent of married women were in a polygamous marriage.
Previous family legislation recognised the husband as the sole head of the household. However, article 97 of the 2004 Family Law Act states that both parents have reciprocal rights and duties towards their children, even when they are divorced, ‘the duty to provide food and contribution to domestic needs maintain even if the separation was in common agreement’. In 2007, the government reported that divorced mothers who retained custody of their children were entitled to child support from the father until the children reached the age of 21 or until they had finished university. With respect to household decision-making, the 2003 Demographic Health Survey found that 57.5 percent of women reported that their husband’s had the final say in household decisions about large purchases.
As of 2007, the inheritance laws in Mozambique are discriminatory towards women and contradictory with the Family Law Act. The law provides that a spouse is fourth in line to inherit property. Customary practices also discriminate against women where widows are commonly left with no rights to inheritance. Customary practices also force widows to remain unmarried if they are to retain their husband’s property and guardianship of their children. With respect to polygamous marriages, the government reported in 2007 that it had amended the law to provide equal inheritance rights to all wives.
Societal discrimination against widows is a problem in Mozambique. For instance, there is a practice of accusing widows of witchcraft and then expelling them from their homes. This is reported to be more common in rural areas.
 CEDAW (2007b) para 50  Namburete, E (2009) p.26  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008)  UNICEF (2005) p.36  CEDAW (2007b) para 50  CEDAW (200b7) para 50  Demographic Health Survey (n.d.)  CEDAW (2005) p.63  Namburete, E (2009) p.26  CEDAW (2007) SR 874 para 51  AMCS et al (2007) p.41  CEDAW (2005) p. 67  Namburete, E (2009) p.27  CEDAW (2007b) para 50  Namburete, E (2009) p.23
According to the US Department of State, rape is prohibited by law in Mozambique with a punishment of two to eight years' imprisonment if the victim is 12 years of age or older and eight to 12 years' imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 12. In 2009, the parliament passed a specific domestic violence law, which prohibits violence against women and marital rape. The law also provides penalties of up to 12 years' imprisonment for engaging in sexual activity while knowingly infected with a contagious disease. Sexual harassment is also illegal in Mozambique.
In terms of the effectiveness of government responses to domestic violence, Mozambique rates relatively well. The 2009 African Women’s Report scored Mozambique on providing protection from domestic violence on the basis of the law, policy commitment, planning, targets, institutional mechanisms, budget, human resources, research, involvement of civil society, information and monitoring and evaluation. The total score for across these areas was 18 out of a possible 22. However, the country has been less effective in responding to sexual violence, with Mozambique being scored 15 out of a possible 22.
The statistics provided by the Women and Children Victims of Domestic Violence Support Cabinet show that in 2007 there were 12637 cases of gender based violence of which 61 percent were against women. The most frequent cases are physical aggression at 27 percent, denial of food assistance, at 11 percent and psychological offences at 11 percent. The 2004 International Violence Against Women Survey found that 40 percent of women had experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.
In Mozambique it is anecdotally reported that intra-family rape (incest) is a common, but nevertheless a taboo subject which is very rarely reported. The 2009 African Women’s Report highlighted that hospital gynaecologists have treated numerous cases of incest and rape of young girls by male relatives, often without parental knowledge. According to the US Department of State, marital rape is also common although unreported, with most families preferring to settle such matters privately through financial settlement rather than through the judicial system.
A key problem for women’s physical integrity is the widespread nature of attitudes that accept and excuse violence against women. Based on a 2003 Demographic and Health survey, it is estimated that 38 percent of women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she neglects her children; 34 percent believe that violence is justified if she refuses to have sex with him; 33 percent believe violence is justified if she argues with him; and 24 percent believe violence is justified if she burns the food.
There is no data on the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Mozambique, however it is reported that it is not a common practice.
Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringes upon women’s physical integrity in Mozambique. Abortion is permitted only in the event to save a woman’s life or to preserve her health. It is not permitted in the event of rape or incest, due to foetal impairment, on request or on social or economic grounds. It was reported in 2009 that there was a debate underway to review laws to allow women access to safe abortion. The 2003 Demographic and Health Survey found that overall 26 percent of married women use contraception and 21 percent use modern methods of contraception. The use of modern contraception has increased from 5 percent in 1997. Despite the increasing use of modern contraceptives, 18 percent of married women reported an unmet need for family planning in the 2003 survey.
 US Department of State (2010)  This is the 2009 Gender Based Violence Against Woman Act in Namburete, E (2009) p.13; US Department of State (2010)  US Department of State (2010)  US Department of State (2010)  Economic Commission of Africa (2009) pp.66-68  Namburete, E (2009) p.53  Economic Commission of Africa (2009) pp.69  US Department of State (2010)  Demographic Health Surveys (2003)  Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.)  United Nations Population Division (2007)  Namburete, E (2009) p.60  Demographic Health Surveys (n.d.)
Gender disaggregated data on child health in Mozambique, reported in the 2009 African Women’s Report, does not provide evidence of son preference in relation to the allocation of nutrition to infants. Further, according to the World Economic Forum in 2010, there is a small gender gap in primary and secondary school enrolments, indicating a slight preferential treatment of sons with respect to access to education.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.95.
There is no evidence to suggest that Mozambique is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
The Land Law of 1997 introduced legal measures to help communities, men and women gain equal legal rights to use land, even though the state retains ownership of the land. However, these rights are not enjoyed by women in practice due to a lack of knowledge of their rights and because administrative practices are not yet aligned with the law. Also, while the law provides women equal rights to land, it also formally recognises customary systems of land tenure in which male relatives regulate women’s access to land.
By law, women who are single, divorced and widowed have the same rights as men in relation to access to property other than land. The new 2004 Family Law also guarantees gender equality in property ownership. Married women have the right to register property jointly with their husbands.
Despite these legal rights, women’s ownership of land and property in Mozambique is limited. The 2009 African Women’s Report scored Mozambique 0.301 where 1.00 represents the level of male ownership of rural/urban plots/houses or land.
There are no reported legal constraints on women’s access to credit in Mozambique. However, in 2005 the government reports that women face constraints due to a lack of information and because of the guarantees required by financial institutions. In 2007, the government reported that it had introduced programmes including credit facilities for women and training in business and administration. In the 2009 African Women’s Report, Mozambique performed very well on women’s access to credit, being scored 1.10 where 1.00 represents men’s access to credit.
 F.A.O. (n.d.)  CEDAW (2005) p.22  F.A.O. (n.d.)  Economic Commission of Africa (2009) p.138  CEDAW (2005) p.40  CEDAW (2007b) para.33  Economic Commission of Africa (2009) p.138
Until 2004, women’s freedom of movement in Mozambique was restricted. Married women were prohibited from travelling alone with their children unless they had prior consent from their husbands. In addition, they were required to live in their husbands’ place of residence and to have their husband’s permission to work. In 2007, while the CEDAW committee commended the government on the removal of discrimination, it raised concerns about the persistent of discriminatory social norms and the need to properly implement the new legislation to ensure women’s freedom of access to public space. The 2003 Demographic Health Survey found that 61% of women reported that their husbands have the final say in decisions to visit family and friends.
The US Department of State reports that the government generally respects press freedom. A study conducted in 2008 monitoring the representation of gender in the media in Mozambique found that there was a gross under-representation of women’s voices and views in the media. With respect to women’s freedom to associate, the US Department of State reports that the government generally respects this right. It is reported that women’s civil society organisations play an active role in influencing policy in the country.
With respect to women’s participation in political life, the World Economic Forum reports that women make up 39 per cent of Mozambique’s parliamentarians and 26 per cent of Ministerial positions.
The labour law of Mozambique provides women with 60 days paid maternity leave at 100 percent of wages.
 CEDAW (2005) p.63  CEDAW (2007c)  Demographic Health Survey (n.d.)  US Department of State (2010)  Namburete, E (2009) p.71  US Department of State (2010)  Namburete, E (2009) p.73  World Economic Forum (2010) p.224  International Labour Organisation (2009)
Mozambique gained independence from Portuguese rule in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid 1990's. A peace agreement ended the conflict in 1992. The World Bank classifies Mozambique as a low income country.
The government in Mozambique has introduced significant reforms, including changes to family and land law, to improve the status of women in the country. However, women’s position continues to be undermined by discriminatory attitudes and practices, with women faring worse than their male counterparts on wage equality, income, educational attainment and political participation. Discriminatory practices affecting women in Mozambique include early marriage and polygamy. Mozambique had one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in the world and the majority of people living with HIV are women. Poverty in Mozambique has a gendered impact with female-headed households more likely to be in poverty compared to male-headed households.
Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique provides that women and men are equal before the law in all domains of economic, social, political and cultural life. Mozambique ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women in 1993.
 Central Intelligence Agency (2010)  World Bank (n.d.)  CEDAW (2007) summary record p.3  World Economic Forum (2010) p.224  CEDAW (2007) summary record p.3  AMCS et al (2007) p.41  Article 67, the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique 1990.
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