Women in Equatorial Guinea are playing a major role in government and the private sector, say two of the country’s top women leaders. While the United Nations recently criticized the lack of women in leadership positions in most countries, women in Equatorial Guinea have long been present at senior levels, according to Mari Carmen Ecoro, Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality, and Maria Coloma Edjang Bengono, Mayor of Malabo.
Minister Ecoro said in a recent interview that her government has many women in political leadership positions due to the country’s community spirit and the president’s personal commitment to gender equality. “The president of the republic says that everyone has value. [A woman] should be trained and given the opportunity to contribute as a member of society. Maybe that's where [Equatorial] Guinea should be a model,” she said.
Minister Ecoro said there is a struggle; there are still things to improve. “The change must always be continuous, from generation to generation. I am glad that [Equatorial] Guinea can be distinguished as a leader in integrating women in political decision-making positions. There is still much to be done but we are making strides.”
Mayor Edjang Bengono also discussed Equatorial Guinea’s efforts to place women in political leadership positions. The mayor said the government follows the example President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo sets in showing how he values women in the country. “In the first place, the president respects his wife as a woman and he wants to see the importance he sees in his wife in every woman, wants all women to have the same rights as a man because here there is gender equality.”
She said 2015 is the year of empowerment, and the government is giving citizens the strength to see that they are all needed, both women and men. “It gives us opportunities in the sense that everyone is equal in their chosen field. Equal opportunities, equal rights.”
Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested in education and training for its citizens, for both men and women. Mayor Edjang Bengono said that it was critical for women to be educated and trained, and that the country counts on women in political leadership positions. “He [President Obiang] has always advised the woman to be educated and trained so she doesn’t have to depend on a man… There are women in Parliament, there are women in the Senate, the Senate president is a woman, there are women in government, there are women in the [governing] political party. There are women in all social sectors and government departments. We do not have that problem. We are given importance in this country,” she said.