Angelina Enoque – Mozambique

Angelina Enoque – Mozambique

Date: May 28, 2007
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Angelina Enoque, Renamo MP for Manica district, is an example of a woman who has grown in her job and who has witnessed a growth amongst other parliamentarians both men and women on gender issues. Her philosophy is that having “thirty per cent women in parliament is not enough: we need quality not just quantity.”

Enoque said that she joined politics by accident. Her brother disappeared during the 16-year- civil war and only reappeared 1992 when the peace accord was signed. He asked his sister to join politics, as he wanted to remain a military man. He had no interest in politics but he saw his sister as bright individual who could advance RENAMO, where his allegiance belonged. Up until then, the only political awakening Enoque had involved being imprisoned a few times and questioned about her brother’s allegiance during the war. Her imprisonment by the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) and the fact that her brother fought for Renamo made her lean towards Renamo although she concedes she was not very political at that point. “Political life was new for me. I just grew on the job,” said Enoque, formerly a primary school teacher.

She suddenly faced a new situation. Her husband, the main breadwinner, died 15 years ago leaving her with four children. Enoque said when she looks back she wonders how she coped, but she did more than that. She continued her education, becoming a Portuguese lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, and also in pre university colleges. She has been an MP since 1994.

Enoque speaks articulately and passionately about gender issues. “If we had more women leaders in the world, I’m sure we wouldn’t have so many wars,” she said. “Men are more aggressive and are more extreme in their ambitions.” She said a women MP brings important values and sensitivities to issues like illiteracy. “Women MPs are sensitive to the fact that a woman will have more time to attend literacy classes if a well is put nearer her home. Men aren’t so sensitive about these issues. But we need both genders to have an equilibrium in decision-making.” She adds that women have a reputation for paying back loans and micro-credit much more reliably: “But men as soon as they receive a loan, they arrange themselves three or four girlfriends. Women are worth investing in.”

Although political party affiliations remain divisive, there is an easing of tension with women in the ruling party: “When I first entered Parliament I used to look at the FRELIMO woman MP as my enemy and she would look at me as an armed bandit. Now we drink tea together and discuss.” Indeed a couple of Frelimo MPs recommended that Enoque be profiled for the study.

Enoque is one of a six-member (three Renamo and three Frelimo) nucleus team of women parliamentarians trying to form a women’s caucus. They have been working on its creation since 1997. Enoque said she is getting demoralized. “I don’t think there is enough support from the institution (Parliament). I would be frustrated to leave parliament without this nucleus being set up,” she said. “We (women MPs) need to have a place where we talk about problems that arise form gender differences and to discuss our needs like crèche and training.” She pointed out that Mozambique is elected as the vice president for women parliamentarians in the SADC PF RWPC “but we have no structure at home. It is a bit of a paradox. We’re just like ambassadors.”

Enoque is a strong advocate of links between MPs and civil society. She says NGOs need to use MPs more. However, civil society organizations say that the women MPs are too restricted by party lines. Enoque replies that the problem is that the more “famous” women MPs may be burnt out: “It is better for the civil society groups to go for the more anonymous women MPs.” The Renamo MP has also noted an important shift in the awareness and attitudes of male MPs: “Before if I wanted to make an intervention, my boss would say, what does this woman want to speak about? Now he will ask, how much time do I need?