Five Ways to Leverage Women and Girls’ Potential in Mozambique

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Mozambique has made significant progress towards gender equality, but critical challenges remain.  It has strong laws in areas such as child marriage, land rights, labor law, and marriage equality but still significant gender inequalities in essential areas like economic opportunities, health, and education, and in making more room for women’s voices in politics and their agency over crucial life choices.

The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy in the world: More than half of girls in Mozambique are married before they turn 18, and almost half between the ages of 15 and 19 have already started having children. Mozambique has made progress in increasing enrollment and reducing gender gaps in primary education, but the gender gap widens in secondary school , with girls dropping out at higher rates than boys.

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Many women in Mozambique suffer the consequences of low levels of education and training, high fertility rates, heavy domestic burdens, and labor market segregation. These give them fewer economic opportunities than men. Most women work in agriculture, but they have less access to land, credit, and essential resources like climate-smart technologies. With little to help toward climate adaptation or creating alternative sources of income, they are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

Despite these challenges, Mozambican women and girls are strong, resilient, and vital to accelerating development. To address the gender inequalities preventing them from reaching their full potential, economic opportunities must expand and investments in human capital development increase. They need to be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities these offer.

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The World Bank's 2023 “Mozambique Gender Assessment: Leveraging Women and Girls’ Potential” identifies five strategic priorities to accelerate progress towards gender equality and inclusion:

  1. Reducing child marriage and adolescent pregnancy and keeping girls in school: This entails increasing access to education and improving its quality; addressing the specific challenges faced by girls, incentivizing their continued education; changing perceptions around the value of girls’ education; and emphasizing delaying marriage and childbearing.
  2. Increasing women's economic opportunities and agricultural productivity: This includes getting more girls into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and other male-dominated professions; providing access to finance and business development services for women entrepreneurs; improving women's access to land, capital, and modern technology; reducing women’s share of childcare by increasing men’s involvement in parenting and increasing access to affordable childcare.
  3. Improving women's sexual and reproductive health and rights: This entails increasing the coverage and quality of sexual, reproductive, and maternal health care; expanding access to family planning and contraception services; and tackling social norms that limit women's bodily autonomy and ability to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS or unplanned pregnancies through education and awareness, particularly for adolescent girls and boys.
  4. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV): This involves addressing beliefs that normalize GBV; providing economic alternatives for women; strengthening support services for GBV survivors; and improving national GBV monitoring and data collection systems. Involving men and boys in programs to shift gender norms and prevent violence is critical.
  5. Strengthening women and girls' resilience to climate change, natural disasters, and conflict: This includes addressing underlying inequalities that lead to disproportionate impact on women and girls; ensuring equal access to resources for climate change adaptation and safety nets; and involving women in climate change policy, disaster risk management, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution efforts.

By focusing on these strategic priorities, Mozambique can make significant progress toward achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. It can build on the life's work of strong women leaders, such as freedom fighter and former first lady Graça Machel, a global leader for inclusive development, and the late women's rights champion Alice Banze, who advanced Mozambique's efforts on gender, climate change, and preventing gender-based violence.

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Authors

Hiska Reyes

Sr. Social Development Specialist

Stephanie Kuttner

Senior Gender and Social Development Consultant

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