Mozambique – Maria Helena José Correia Langa

Date: September 18, 2018
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During the opening of the Fourth Summit of Good Practices of the SADC Protocol, held on 28th and 29 th November this year (2016) in Maputo City, the President of the Municipality of Manjakaze, Maria Helena José Correia Langa, was widely applauded for saying that 50% of its councilors are women and 50% men.  

We believe that when God made the world and did not forget to put the woman next to the man, and only then concluded that the world was complete, it is because he was sure that these two beings had to do, live and understand the world together. It is in this sense that in our city we value gender issues.

Mrs. Langa is a member of the fiscal council of her Presbyterian Church in Mozambique. She is the president of the Mozambican Autarchic Women’s Network, one of the founders of the African Autarchic Women’s Network and also a founding member of the Women Heads of Families association. She is always engaged in the fight for gender equality issues: 

We always feel a void in terms of the participation of the woman, in the sense of she giving what are her experiences, saying what she wants, what she wants to reach with the Municipality [of Manjakaze]. We created a space so that she can always be present and say what goes well or badly and how we should coordinate. – She emphasized, and then spoke specifically about the space of participation of women: – We created the Municipal Women’s Forum, in which these women are grandmothers of all women in the Municipality. They participate in the Municipal Participation and Development Forum, which plans the activities [of our municipality]. Our planning is always done from the gender perspective to give answers to the issues of men and women in the Municipality.

Like the municipality of Manjakaze, Chokwé Municipality also has half of male councilmen and half female councilors. With about 55 thousand inhabitants and being a major producer of cereals and vegetables, Chokwé has always been known for being macho. There was a need for awareness-raising campaigns, many with the support of Gender Links, so that the city could began to recognize the value of women and to realize that a woman could hold leadership positions.

In fact, I am a product of that. Who would have thought that I would be President [of the Municipality of Chokwé], if it were not for this noise saying that “woman is able, the woman is able to”. I am a product of all these sensitizations. Chokwé is a land of macho. But the work reached up to the men. – Rejoices Cossa.

The awareness-raising campaigns in Chokwé were made in the churches, where it is believed that ia a place were people routinely attend. There were formed about 100 pastors in the area of gender, especially with regard to the fight against early marriages. Mrs. Cossa sees as positive the results achieved by sensitization and remembers Samora Machel (1933 to 1986), the first President of the Republic of Mozambique that was born in Chokwé:  

Perhaps that is why Samora Machel, for knowing that the land in which he was born is macho, he often spoke too much of the emancipation of women [in his speeches]. It was because he knew that women lived there at home.

Mrs. Cossa and Mrs. Langa warn that women should not occupy leadership positions just because they are women but because they have competence to be in such positions.  

We (the women), what we have to do is to continue to study, to promote the education for girls, make it possible for our families, our children (girls and boys) to grow up to know that the development of Mozambique depends on each and every one of us. – Said Mrs. Langa, who is currently in her second term in that Municipality, which has about 35 thousand inhabitants.