With the support of the International Republican Institute (IRI), women leaders representing 13 of Angola’s largest political parties have establishes the Forum of Political Women (FMP) and initiated a public information campaign to introduce FMP to women throughout Angola and educate women on their political rights.
Founded in November 2006, in IRI’s Luanda office, FMP works to increase women’s involvement in the political process in Angola.
As Angola began to prepare for elections scheduled for 2008 and 2009, FMP members realized female politicians in Angola were not being given the opportunity to conduct media or voter-contact efforts. To address this issue, the group developed a campaign to begin a public dialogue on women’s political rights. The effort was to begin on March 8, 2007, International Women’s Day, with a news conference and distribution of literature at the Roque Santeiro market in Luanda.
As March 8 approached, government officials refused to allow FMP to hold their event or distribute their materials – this refusal came only on the eve of their planned launch.
Refusing to accept the status-quo of limited political space for women in their young democracy, the FMP turned to the media. They were able to garner three separate articles highlighting the plight of women in Angolan politics and the general lack of political freedoms.
Following the media attention, the women were able to secure permission for their March 24 event at Roque Santeiro. While the market administrator caused them some problems in the early morning hours, by 11:00 AM the women had disseminated their message throughout Roque Santeiro and the surrounding neighborhood.
The response from the women trading in the market was overwhelming – with women who received the material reading it aloud so that others could hear.
In the coming months, FMP plans to distribute 53,000 copies of the literature in Luanda and six of Angola’s provincial capitals.Top