Violence and discrimination continue to affect women in Guinea-Bissau

November 25 is the first of 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women. As part of this year's commemoration, under the theme: "Alarming the world: mobilizing resources to end violence against women and girls," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon encouraged global leaders to collaborate with the UN Women and the United Nations Fund for Ending Violence against Women.

4 Jan 2017

Violence and discrimination continue to affect women in Guinea-Bissau

In Guinea Bissau, the 16 days of activism will be filled with an awareness campaign to eliminate violence against women; which includes many activities as djumbais (community meetings) in communities and schools and among others.

This campaign also includes broadcasting 16 spots with same number of different messages on national television and radio, by several public figures, such as the singer Binham, journalist João Umpa Mendes, First Lady Rosa Vaz, activist Fatumata Djau, politicians and religious leaders.

Gender inequality is one of the factors that contribute most to violence against women. In Guinea Bissau, everyone agrees that there is now greater gender equality, but there is still much to do to ensure true equality and thus prevent violence against women.

In 2015, the Bissau-Guinean parliament passed a law against domestic violence, but enforcement of this law is still lagging behind. Bubacar Turé, UNIOGBIS gender officer, believes that "it is necessary to adopt operational measures for law to be implemented in the country, that is, to create conditions for judicial institutions to be equipped with knowledge and tools."

The deputy and spokesman of the Party Social for Renewal, Baptista Pereira, argues that there is still a "macho tendency in Guinean society, despite some improvements in recent times."

This trend is visible in the division of household tasks within the family. There is more and more equality in Bissau but in the regions the situation remains very  difficult for women.

Chipenda Sá, is an employee of the Ministry of Women, Family and Social Cohesion, father of three girls. He argues that parents should, from an early age, instill in children the idea of ​​parity, regardless of their gender. "Children should learn from us at an early age that both boys and girls are the same so as not to create the spirit of inferiority," said Chipenda.

Away from the capital, the scenario is different. There are men who think that there are tasks exclusively for women, especially in Sao Domingos and Bubaque. "My wife and I just had girls but we have nephews who live with us. But I split the chores, the girls cook, they get water, they clean the house and they wash clothes. And the boys plough the land, and carry heavy things, "said Joaquim, a resident of São Domingos.

His wife Helena said that her husband helps at home “but very little”, but she is optimistic that things will change over time. "I work and my husband too but when we get home I do just about everything. Instead of helping me, he will play cards or lie down to rest and only at the end will show up for dinner (discouragement). In my house I try to change this but my husband says I'm annoying and he does help, only he could help more. Things are going to change gradually (laughs) "said Helena.

Although women represent almost 52 percent of the Bissau-Guinean population continue to suffer discrimination. Parity between girls and boys in the education and education system is uneven, where the illiteracy rate within girls reaches 76 percent while boys rate 48 percent. Discrimination is a reality in the family, at school and in society.

The new Sustainable Development Objectives, which include a specific goal to end violence against women and girls, are promising but must be adequately funded to bring real and meaningful change to the lives of women and girls.