maternal mortality mozambiqueMaternal health in Mozambique is a constant concern as the nation’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. While some progress has been made, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure that mothers in Mozambique have to access high-quality healthcare. Recently, two initiatives have been created, the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project and a project by the Maternal and Child Survival Program. They are working to improve maternal health in Mozambique.

The Current State of Maternal Health

In 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 489 deaths per 100,000 live births. Approximately one-fifth of these deaths are women under the age of 20. Maternal mortality has declined since 1990 when there were approximately 1390 deaths per 100,000 live births; however, maternal deaths remain high. It is clear that continued efforts are needed to improve the quality of maternal health in Mozambique. Each day, approximately 800 pregnant women die from preventable causes.

One of the primary factors determining maternal mortality rates is the availability of antenatal care. In regions where more women receive four or more antenatal visits, the maternal mortality rate is generally lower. Globally, 62 percent of pregnant women have at least four antenatal visits with a skilled health professional, while 86 percent of women have at least one. In Mozambique, only 51 percent of expectant mothers have at least four antenatal visits.

Additionally, only 54 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel. Age is also a factor, with 40 percent of women 20-24 years old reporting that they gave birth before the age of 18. Younger mothers have an increased risk of death during childbirth, particularly if there is not someone with medical training present.

Early marriage logically leads to childbirth at a younger age and improving maternal mortality rates in the nation relies on protecting young women. In response to this, the government of Mozambique created the National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Early Marriage in 2016. This program includes better education about sexual and reproductive rights with the goal of empowering women to seek out appropriate care and understand their legal rights. For poorer women, this knowledge is often not enough, however, as they may not have the autonomy to make a legal case or have a healthcare facility readily available to them.

Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)

The Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) has launched a project in Mozambique’s Zambézia Province focused on treating pregnant women with malaria. Malaria currently accounts for 9.6 percent of deaths in the nation, and the rate in the Zambézia Province higher than the average. This project seeks to improve maternal health in Mozambique by tackling maternal and newborn deaths due to malaria.

Malaria during pregnancy has many consequences, including higher rates of maternal anemia and low birthweight babies. These factors increase the likelihood of maternal death as well as stillbirth. A treatment known as IPTs-SP exists that can prevent malaria in expectant mothers, but fewer than 22 percent of women in Mozambique receive adequate dosages during their pregnancy.

The MCSP project is empowering healthcare providers in Mozambique to treat malaria cases in pregnant women regardless of their complexity. For example, a young pregnant woman who had malaria but was also HIV-positive could not receive IPTp-SP treatments because the drug is incompatible with her HIV treatment. However, a different medication was able to be prescribed by an MCSP-trained nurse who had been trained on how to handle a variety of malaria cases.

The project also implemented a Standards-Based Management and Recognition for Malaria program in 58 health facilities in the Zambézia Province. This program is working to collect better data about malaria cases and more effectively implement initiatives for prevention and treatment.

Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project

Improving maternal health in Mozambique is a priority for the University of Saskatchewan as well. Researchers from the university are working with Mozambique’s health ministry and the NGO Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) to empower women in 20 different communities through the Mozambique-Canada Maternal Health Project.

Education is a key piece to this project, providing information on maternal, reproductive and sexual health to community members in a way that is participatory and engaging for adolescents and adults. The project is also prioritizing the education of health practitioners to improve the quality of care for mothers in Mozambique.

Additionally, the project seeks to improve resources in the community that can improve maternal and newborn health. They intend to provide local ambulances, establish maternal waiting homes nearby to clinics and support local midwives. The latter is the most important, as having locals who are trained health personnel can greatly benefit rural women who may not have the time or financial resources (particularly in situations of poverty) to travel to a clinic.

These efforts indicate that maternal health in Mozambique is continuing to be a priority. The work that these organizations are doing is focused on empowering women to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives, ensuring health personnel are properly trained and accessible and meeting the needs of poorer women.

Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr

top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique
The Southeast African country of Mozambique has made great progress in education in terms of enrollment and access. However, retention rates the quality of education are still inadequate and are still a huge issue for the country. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique presented in the text below will cover the successes and shortcomings of the school system in the country and the effects it has on girls and gender equality.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Mozambique

  1. Mozambique ranked 139th out of 159 countries on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. Various cultural beliefs that insist on the inferiority of women expose females to threats of disease, discrimination and violence.
  2. Around 94 percent of girls in Mozambique enroll in primary school. Mozambique’s primary and secondary schools became free in 2003, making them accessible even for low-income families. Mozambique also invested in teachers and infrastructure, reducing the distance students needed to travel to get to school. The school system reform nearly doubled school enrollments from 2003 to 2014.
  3. Despite the fact that there is a high number of girls in primary schools, only 11 percent of girls continue to study in secondary schools. As girls grow older, they are met by an increasing domestic workload and more responsibilities. Many girls choose to stay at home in order to do chores or work to help their families.
  4. In terms of primary and secondary school enrollment, Mozambique does continually increase gender parity, from 0.74 in 2000 to 0.92 in 2015.
  5. Although enrollment rates have increased dramatically, the quality of education in Mozambique still demands improvement. An alarming 66 percent of students graduate from primary school without having proper reading, writing and math skills. As one USAID sponsored study showed, over half of third graders could not read and those who could have great difficulty doing so.
  6. Mozambique’s female literacy rate is less than half of that of males. Only 28 percent of females know how to read and write compared to 60 percent of males.
  7. Women tend to enroll in more secretarial and administrative courses, composing 60 percent of students in those fields. Agriculture and technical training, however, are more male-dominated, reflecting gender stereotypes and the type of chores assigned to girls and boys.
  8. In a study done by the UNGEI, 66 percent of girls reported physical, sexual, or psychological violence and abuse and about a quarter of those abuses were conducted in schools. Young girls often face sexual abuse from older men, leading to unwanted pregnancies. In many cases, poverty pushes girls to exchange sex for money, food, or school supplies. As a result, their sexual activity starts earlier, along with their exposure to deadly threats of HIV and AIDS.
  9. Teen pregnancies prove to be a major reason for girls dropping out of school early. From 30 to 40 percent of girls are pregnant before they turn 18 years old.  As a result, many girls leave school to take care of their child and household, taking night classes instead. Although these classes allow them to continue schooling, girls often have to travel long distances to attend class, putting themselves in danger. The burden of taking care of a child, working and performing household chores can be overbearing and may leave little time for school. Teen pregnancies also put girls’ lives at risk as girls between 15 and 19 years are four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related issues than women over 20.
  10. Child marriages are another roadblock to education. Almost half of the girls in Mozambique are married before they turn 18 and around 15 percent are married before they turn 15. As a result, girls must drop out of school to stay home or work to take care of their families. Mozambique is working harder to enforce the legal age of marriage (18 years) through the initiation of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combating of Early Marriage in 2016. The strategy serves to empower young women and target vulnerable teens.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Mozambique show that great strides in education and gender equality have been made in the country, but more work needs to be done. Teen pregnancies and marriages pose a major threat to girls’ education, keeping them in the cycle of poverty and oppression. Improvements to education allow them to break free of that cycle and pursue better lives for them and for their communities.

– Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Mozambique Located in the Southeastern region of Africa, Mozambique is an interesting country with a rich culture and, like many of its neighbors, a painful history.

In this article, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Mozambique are presented.

  1. Mozambique had a population of almost 20 million in 2002. The country’s population is estimated to reach 33.3 million by 2025 and a staggering 50 million people by the year 2050. Currently, the country’s population of around 30 million only confirms that the estimated figure may be reached, if not even surpassed. Out of the total population, 96 percent is made up of black Africans whilst the Portuguese, Asians and the mixed race make up the remaining 4 percent.
  2. In 2002, an estimated two-thirds of Mozambique’s population was illiterate. At the time, education was compulsory for people in the age group from 7 to 14. Mozambique was under Portuguese rule and the black population had limited opportunities for education and only a few of the elite could study in Portugal at that time. Now, the literacy rates are much higher as 58.55 percent of the adult population from age 15 up are able to read and write.
  3. Illiteracy is high among the indigenous people of Mozambique and as a result, an independent indigenous paper is not a feasible option. The highest selling paper is the Portuguese Noticias. Its circulation ranges between 25,000 and 50,000. The state-controlled Radio Mozambique is the country’s main source of news and information. However, Mozambique has about 40 other community radio and television stations that are approved by the government.
  4. Constitution of Mozambique protects the freedom of the press thus journalists in Mozambique have been able to write stories that criticize the government without being victimized. However, journalists face criminal libel laws that ensure that they have a certain level of self-censorship. In May 2018, the country stepped down six places in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) rankings that measure safety for reporters in a country. Mozambique fell from 93rd to 99th but as a result of other countries improvement in this field.
  5. Mozambique has an average rainfall level of about 55 inches per year yet the country imports its food. In 2016, food imports were at 15 percent. Mozambique’s own agricultural products include shrimp, fish, tea, sisal, coconuts, corn, millet, cassava and peanuts. The country has a need to import other things like wheat in order to cover the food deficit.
  6. The national poverty rates in the country are estimated to range from 41 to 46 percent of the country’s population. This means that around 11 million people in the country are absolutely poor. Whilst the welfare levels have improved at the national level compared to previous years, the gains have not contributed to a convergence in welfare levels between rural and urban zones.
  7. In 1990, Mozambique was one of the poorest countries in the world and the poverty reached approximately 80 percent of the total population. The Millennium Development Goal was set to reduce poverty by half but it proved to be too difficult to reach. After the war in 1992, Mozambique experienced strong growth and stability for a while. From 2002 to 2009, poverty reduction became stagnant. After that period, from 2009 to 2015, the country’s economy kept growing at a slow but stable pace.
  8. In rural Mozambique, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has begun educating women in the society about food security. A few women undergo training as “care mothers”, then they go out into the community and teach the other women what they have learned. They are taught how to have a balanced diet and a healthy number of meals in a day as well as how to garden at home so that they can produce what they need for a balanced diet themselves.
  9. Like many African countries, people rely on public transportation in Mozambique. Buses, minibusses and taxis are the common means of transport in urban areas. In rural places, transport ranges from minibusses and pickup trucks to bicycles and boat taxis. The roads are in bad shape despite investments in restoring the roads. Public transport is not always reliable and may not be on schedule.
  10. Most of the girls in Mozambique are enrolled in primary school but by the fifth grade, only 11 percent are left to continue their education and only 1 percent of girls make it to college. The government has made efforts to give all children access to education, however, the quality of education is below standard.

As a third world African country, Mozambique has similar living conditions to other poor and developing countries.

Although the people in the country endure many hardships, they live full lives steeped in culture and tradition.

Their lives revolve around their families and communities and their customs stem from local influences rather than national ones.

– Aquillina Ngowera

Photo: Flickr

MozambiqueThe energy sector is beginning to sink its claws into a stabilizing Mozambique for good or for bad. ExxonMobil is one of the largest contributors to government projects in this African country. They are planning the largest infrastructure project in modern African history. The Government of Mozambique estimates that revenues generated from natural gas sales could have huge benefits for the country. If properly managed this could be a great moment in the history of Mozambique. Until that day, much of the country lives without access to the power grid or even power. That does not mean the people are simply waiting for something to happen. Sustainable energy in Mozambique is on the rise thanks to domestic and foreign support.

Power Situation in Mozambique

Despite Mozambique having the highest energy production potential in Africa, only 34 percent of its population has access to power. This is due to the high cost of coal, natural gas and oil. In the upcoming years, it is estimated that coal, oil, natural gas and sustainable energy sources will provide 44 percent of the power for Mozambique. Right now hydroelectric energy powers most of the country, alongside government funded sustainable energy projects for rural areas. In 2014, it was estimated that only five percent of the rural population had access to power. To help connect the rural population to the power grid or provide them with power, Mozambique’s government began to fund sustainable energy projects led by the Mozambique Energy Institute (Fundo de energia or FUNAE).

Solar energy

The African-European Union renewable energy program states that the solar energy potential of Mozambique is large and unexploited. It has the potential of producing 2.7 gigawatts a year. Due to this E.U. nations and international organizations are working with FUNAE and Mozambique’s government-owned energy company Electricity of Mozambique (EDM) to exploit this resource and increase sustainable energy in Mozambique.

The World Bank, United Nations and the Belgian government all are working towards increasing the funding of solar-powered mini-grids for rural villages. These mini-grids are not connected to the main power grid of Mozambique. They are self-sustaining power units that power only small villages or homes. It is estimated that these individual power stations help produce 2.2 megawatts of energy. Through this program, the government also hopes to supply up to 50,000 solar-powered refrigerators to the rural population.

Government Support

Sustainable energy in Mozambique received a huge support from the Mozambique government. By 2030, the government pledged nearly $500 million to investments in sustainable energy in Mozambique. The investment outline details increased investment into Mozambique’s already booming hydroelectric sector and expanding the growing solar sector. The Mozambique government stated that hydroelectric and solar projects between 2014 and 2015 helped to provide power to 201 villages, 669 schools, 623 health centers and 77 public buildings, reaching an estimated 3.7 million people. By the end of their investment, the government hopes to reach 332 villages more.

The balance of power in Mozambique looks like it could be tipped in either direction. It is hard for a struggling economy to ignore their vast reserves of oil, coal and natural gas. Many people from rural areas still use charcoal, wood and manure as fuels to cook and warm their homes. It is satisfying to know that the government still takes renewable, clean, and sustainable energy seriously. Even if the entire nation will not “go green” at once, they are building the infrastructure to make it there one day.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Mozambique
Mozambique, a recently independent and developing nation, is solidifying its identity as a stable environment for education and growth. After its independence from Portugal, many struggled to deal with the changing government, rapid growth and hazardous climate. However, amongst such change and development, a plan for education has begun to empower future generations into action rather than reaction. Organizations like the Gender and Education in Mozambique project focus specifically on girls’ education in Mozambique .

The Gender and Education in Mozambique Project

The Gender and Education in Mozambique project began in 1997 and works to provide all children — regardless of gender — with the right to access education and equal opportunities. Not only does the Gender and Education in Mozambique project work to prioritize girls’ education in Mozambique, but it also works to assure that all members of the country understand and promote a learning environment in which girls are praised for their attendance — not made pariahs because they are not at home. The project used to work closely with UNICEF, but they’ve moved more towards protecting all genders’ rights to education.

Another affiliate of the program, Promoting Advancement of Girls’ Education in Mozambique, works to create organizations within schools that provide a support system for girls in school and encourage school involvement.

The aim is to provide educational support in the form of school supplies, and empowerment via scholarships for secondary education. Along with academic support comes emotional support, providing girls with the opportunity to report abuse and harassment and giving an outlet instead of forcing young people to bottle up pain and bullying.

Redefining Girls’ Education in Mozambique

Girls’ education in Mozambique is becoming more of a priority as a topic of education, not just as a focus for the government. PLAN International — a group focused on promoting equal education and more in depth education — has created clubs in which students learn about rights, societal issues and taboo subjects such as sex education.

Both boys and girls are able to join these clubs as they focus on political, social and academic equality. PLAN International also focuses on the need for women to finish their education rather than becoming teenage mothers through a program called the Better Opportunities for Girls project, also known as the AMOR project.

The AMOR Project aims to lower the number of child marriages and teenage pregnancies, which should then allow more girls to complete their high school education and potentially continue on into further schooling. The correlation found between larger areas of poverty and a greater number of child marriages often works to keep girls out of schools and forces them into domestic roles at home.

Action Rather Than Reaction

Mozambique has made significant progress since their independence in 1975 and civil war in 1992, and used their national drive to inspire change, creation and growth. However, there is always more that can be done to end the poverty of a nation.

A starting position for a country like Mozambique is to develop their education, which will in turn, allow women to stream into the workforce and generate revenue. The building blocks for development are in place – now it is time to promote and grow girls’ education in Mozambique.

– Kayleigh Mattoon
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique
Close to the white sands of the shores of Mozambique, crews in wooden boats with hand-nets pull up their catch. The same scene plays out each day over the 1,500 miles of coastline as nearly 85 percent of fishing is Mozambique is done by hand.

While large fishing trawlers comb the ocean with nets hanging from each side of the ship. The turning of the turbines can be heard on deck and wenches wine as they bring up the catch. Below deck, hidden away from the rising sun over the Indian Ocean, humming refrigerators and freezers await the 30 to 40 tons of incoming shrimp catch for the European market. These two scenes have played out for years, but over the last two decades, sustainable fishing in Mozambique has become the new battle.

Need For Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique

These large fishing trawlers are not necessarily evil behemoths eating up all the shrimp; rather, they provide jobs and contribute to Mozambique’s export market. Around 82 percent of the shrimp exported by Mozambique in 2017 were exported to the European Union; now, the nation’s once plentiful stocks are beginning to dwindle due to overfishing by all parties.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “artisanal fishers” catch shrimp and other fish too young and too soon. These “artisanal” fishers or small-scale fishing operations catch up to 85 percent of the fish caught. Shrimp and fish mature faster than many species, and the rate at which they are caught so young far outpaces the number of times they can reproduce. The WWF says there is still time to save the fish stocks in Mozambique through promoting sustainable fishing.

The government of Mozambique and the world took notice when in 2013, the government passed a law regulating fishing rights. The bill was designed to help small-scale fisheries and also regulate their catch, and turned out to be extremely influential for the nation. A combined effort by Rare, the World Bank and the Mozambican government helped plot recovery zones, or areas where the fish population can replenish, and coordinate with fishermen to maintain their livings.

Efforts for Change and Areas of Growth

In 2016, the World Bank approved a $91 million loan and grants package for fisheries in East Africa and the South West Indian Ocean area. The South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission received a grant to increase cooperation between member nations to increase sustainable fishing practices.

Sustainable fishing in Mozambique is also necessary because of unregulated fishing or IUU fishing. IUU fishing stands for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It is estimated that IUU fishing costs Mozambique $37-67 million each year. This money could be put back into the system to improve sustainable fishing in Mozambique and the people’s pockets.

In addition, the already taxed ecosystem is further damaged which will hurt the people and industry of Mozambique in the long run. IUU fishing is a problem up and down the East Coast of Africa. Some of the money from the World Bank given to the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission will hopefully be used to combat this problem.

Global and Individual Support

Support for sustainable fishing in Mozambique is projected to continue into the future for the world has taken notice and stepped up to the plate. Whether global organizations or individuals, spreading the word, donating or volunteering can always help abroad and at home.

Overfishing is not a problem specific to Mozambique — it takes place all over the world. You can help by simply checking the label at the grocery store before you buy; yes, it can be that easy.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

U.S. working to reduce poverty in MozambiqueThe country of Mozambique, situated in southeast Africa, is ranked as of the world’s poorest nations. Since its independence from Portugal in 1975, this country has struggled to survive as a free nation. However, poverty rates are on the decline, with the U.S. working to reduce poverty in Mozambique.

One of the main causes of Mozambique’s extreme poverty rates is that following its independence in 1975, the country endured a civil war from 1977 to 1992. This war drained the country of its national resources. Shortly after the resolution of the civil war, the United States stepped in, providing much-needed aid to the hurting country. The United States is still Mozambique’s largest bilateral donor, giving an annual $400 million towards relief measures.

The United States and Mozambique both share a commitment to improving health, education and food security for the Mozambican people, which can be seen through the success of U.S.-funded programs.

For example, in 2000, after severe floods occurred in Mozambique, the United States provided assistance to 115,000 families to rebuild their homes. In addition, the PEPFAR program, supported by the United States, also works with the Mozambican government, saving hundreds of thousands of lives from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United States also provides for the future of the country through the Feed the Future program, educating farmers on how to develop their land to increase food production and therefore provide for their people, drastically reducing the hunger percentage.

All of these programs demonstrate the positive effects of the U.S. working to reduce poverty in Mozambique; however, there is still much that needs to be done, as the majority of the population still lives in extreme poverty. For every percentage point of economic growth between 1996 and 2009, Mozambique’s poverty rate only decreased by 0.26 percentage points. This is half of what other African countries have achieved in terms of poverty reduction rates.

The reason for this difference in numbers is because there is not an even distribution of funds among the Mozambican people. If Mozambique’s growth had been more equally shared between groups of people living throughout the country, an estimated two million additional people could have been lifted out of poverty.

Rural areas contain a much larger percentage of people living in poverty because of the difficulty in accessing relief methods provided to those in more urban settings. However, even with the uneven distribution of funds and other methods of aid, with the U.S. working to reduce poverty in Mozambique, things are looking up for the country.

Despite all of the struggles Mozambique has had to endure, its future is looking bright. Although it is ranked as having one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, the country has made significant progress in reducing mortality rates. Its economic success has also started to pick up the pace as seen in 2017, when the GDP growth rate increased 2.9 percent from the preceding quarter.

With numbers like these, it can be seen that Mozambique is slowly reducing the number of people living in poverty. However, it still relies on foreign assistance such as that from the United States, and it is vitally important to continue these relief methods.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Pixabay

Building a Diverse Economy With Infrastructure in MozambiqueInfrastructure in Mozambique is significantly underdeveloped compared to all other countries of the world. Of its approximate 30,400 kilometers of highway roads, only 18 percent are paved, the rest remaining dangerous and even impassable in certain weather conditions. The entire length of Mozambique spans 2,000 kilometers and varies between 50 and 600 kilometers in width.

The Estrada Nacional One, or National Highway One (EN1) remains the only road connected the country’s capital, Maputo, to the north and south. The rest of the country remains largely disconnected, with little to no mode of transport available to the outer regions. There are no rail lines going beyond Maputo to the north, with many of the existing ones in the south being unserviceable and in complete disrepair. Domestic and freight transport mainly serves the center and south of the country through the largest transport company, Transportes Lalgy, which also connects to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The rising demand for the country’s vast natural resources is its best chance for boosting the economy and spurring development of infrastructure in Mozambique forward. The main challenge to this development is diversifying the economy, expanding and tapping into the resources centered in Mozambique’s food products, ports, airlines and railways.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) created the Competir com Qualidade, or private sector quality promotion program, in 2012, aiming toward enhancing the country’s development through increasing product competition. According to UNIDO project manager Dominika Dor, this is the first step toward creating a productive and stable economy, saying, “A well-functioning quality infrastructure can have a positive impact on multiple aspects of life, reaching from industrial development to environmental sustainability.” She goes on to explain that this impact is especially essential when it comes to water and other food products, as they are meant to be consumed by humans.

Development of infrastructure in Mozambique is particularly crucial when it comes to the railroads and ports. Malawi and Zimbabwe are entirely dependent on the rail lines that connect them to Mozambique, as they are completely landlocked and cannot reach the ports for their imports and exports any other way.

The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) plans to invest $750 million in the development of the Port of Maputo, Mozambique’s largest port, so it can transport 48 million tons of goods each year by 2033. This includes the transport of iron-chromium, coal, vehicles and fruit, among other goods. The second and third largest ports, Beira and Nacala respectively, are currently undergoing enhancements to expand their accommodations for larger cargos and ensure Zimbabwe’s entry into the world market.

The rail network, on the other hand, requires private investments to improve railroad safety and ensure the safe passage of cargo and goods. The Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) is currently working on obtaining these investments and bring Mozambique’s railways up to the national standard.

Further development on Mozambique’s roads and transportation services will only serve to increase movement through the nation’s economy. With continued work on the infrastructure in Mozambique, the quality of life will inevitably improve for the African nation’s citizens.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr


As with many areas populated mainly by rural people, women’s empowerment in Mozambique takes a long time to spread through scattered communities. As of July 2017, Mozambique’s population stands at around 26,573,706, a number that accounts for the millions of inhabitants who have died from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which severely affected much of this region.

The seaside nation is one of Africa’s less-populated countries, and, as the CIA states, the majority of its population is under the age of 15. With such an underprivileged and underaged society, there is much room for improvement, especially in the area of women’s rights.

U.N. Women

U.N. Women is an organization working to produce international legislation and support for women where women may not have a voice otherwise. According to its most recent report on Mozambique, “Mozambique is in a period of great transformation. Rapid economic growth coexists with high inequalities, very low human development indicators and a tense political situation.”

The amount of poverty and lack of economic growth in the region coupled with the major loss in adult population due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic leaves the women of Mozambique in a tough position — they are in charge of the economic stability in their community due to the lack of male population, but they are required to still adhere to strict social standards of the past.

Land and Labor

One of the most significant inhibitors of women’s empowerment in Mozambique is the tradition of male land-ownership. According to U.N. Women, women account for 87 percent of the labor force, but only 25 percent of these workers own land of their own. Many traditions in the Mozambique society focus on patriarchal norms, with the man being the breadwinner, landowner and leader in household activities.

However, with the severe decline in male population, these traditions are becoming harder to uphold. According to the International Labor Organization, over 59 percent of women work in informal or manual labor, which makes up 95 percent of the labor distribution in Mozambique.

The small margin of formal labor is known to be quite discriminatory toward women, and so the International Labor Organization produced a list of recommendations that labor unions and the Mozambican government to work on implementing for the betterment of women’s empowerment in the country.

Women’s empowerment in Mozambique is just beginning to take form; according to the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa, there are now 98 women in Parliament as of 2012. This number has increased from women holding only seven political seats in 2008, but it still only amounts to 39 percent of the entire parliamentary population.

Legal Action Needed

In the legal system, Mozambicans fight major issues such as human trafficking and abuse through legislation such as The Family Code, which was adopted in 2004. According to the International Federation for Human Rights, the Family Code establishes “total gender equality in family law, marriage, divorce, raising children and sharing assets within a marriage.” The law also establishes a woman’s right to property ownership which, as mentioned before, has been a contentious subject in the rural areas.

With this law, among many others which protect against egregious human rights violations such as human trafficking and rape, women in Mozambique are beginning to be viewed as equal to men in their homes, communities and society overall.

While there is plenty of work to be done in advocacy and fighting for women’s empowerment in Mozambique, there have been many strides taken to readjust the outlook of Mozambican society and to open doors for rural and cosmopolitan women in the country.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Flickr

App to Treat Malaria
For the people of Mozambique, malaria is a familiar and deadly part of life. As one of the world’s leading victims of the disease, Mozambique sees thousands of its citizens die as a result every year. Global initiatives have fought hard to treat and prevent malaria, including awareness campaigns and insecticide-treated nets. Since 2015, though, Mozambique has used an innovative resource: a smartphone app to treat malaria.

Mozambicans in rural areas often receive their health care from government-funded community health workers. These community health workers (agentes polivalente elementare, or APEs) are trained to diagnose and treat Mozambique’s most ubiquitous diseases, including malaria. Seeing a need to improve treatment, APEs in Mozambique have been provided with the CommCare app, created by the Malaria Consortium’s inSCALE research project and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The CommCare app allows APEs to better treat their patients through a number of means. It teaches better consultation methods through images and audio. It also creates better communication between APEs and their supervisors and functions, so medical records can be uploaded anywhere. App users in Mozambique have reported that it provides for clearer and more accurate treatment. New methods for recognizing and treating malaria are more easily transmitted to remote areas. The app to treat malaria has given community health workers better tools, communication and resources to assist in their vital work.

The entire population of Mozambique is at risk for malarial infection, typically spread by insects. The disease presents itself through flu-like symptoms and can be fatal if left untreated. Prior to 2010, there are no official figures for the number of deaths due to malaria. Since 2010, deaths to malaria have decreased and, in 2015, dipped to an all-time low.

On a morose but encouraging note, malarial confirmations have risen concurrently with the decreasing deaths. This suggests that malaria is being recognized, diagnosed and treated in Mozambique.  

Malaria is a relatively easy disease to treat. With early diagnosis, antimalarial medications can clear out the parasite and cure the patient. African countries are prone to malaria because of several factors: mosquitoes are rampant, medical clinics are scarce and preventative measures are often difficult to come by.

Because early diagnosis is so vital to a malaria victim’s odds of survival, Mozambique has taken steps to bridge the gap between rural areas and medical treatment. Aside from preventative measures, Mozambicans in remote areas rely on APEs to treat the country’s deadliest afflictions. The CommCare app gives APEs the resources to more accurately diagnose malaria and treat it appropriately.

Mozambique is seeing a positive trend in recent years. There are more diagnoses and fewer deaths. Eradication of the disease is still far off; however, using technology such as the CommCare app to treat malaria is guiding Mozambique in a positive direction. Countries around the world would be served well by adopting the same approach to the fight against malaria.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr