Angola - An Overview of Women's Work, Minimum Wages and Employment

An Overview of Women’s Work and Employment in Angola. Minimum wage, wages, labour employment, unemployment, women employment, working conditions, Labour market structure, Legislation, Labour relations, Literacy, Literacy and skill levels of female labour, etc...

Decisions for Life MDG3 Project Country Report No. 2

University of Amsterdam /Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)
Maarten van Klaveren, Kea Tijdens, Melanie Hughie-Williams, Nuria Ramos Martin
Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 2009



This report provides information on Angola on behalf of the implementation of the DECISIONS FOR LIFE project in that country. The DECISIONS FOR LIFE project aims to raise awareness amongst young female workers about their employment opportunities and career possibilities, family building and the work-family balance. This report is part of the Inventories, to be made by the University of Amsterdam, for all 14 countries involved. It focuses on a gender analysis of work and employment.

History (2.1.1). After Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, a civil war seriously frustrated the country’s development. After in 2002 the war ended, the MPLA governed as the ruling party, with a large parliamentary majority. Recently Angola intensified the exploitation of its rich natural resources, notably its large oil and natural gas deposits. Yet, its GDP growth pattern remains volatile. Unless recent strong economic growth, over half of the population has to make ends meet with less than USD 1 a day.

Governance (2.1.2). Angola for the last seven years has had a rather stable political record. The government has committed itself to the MDG3 goals, but gender equality and women’s empowerment have not yet been given high priority. In practice the relationship between NGOs and government is full of tensions. Angola’s human rights record remains poor; corruption continues to be widespread.

Prospects (2.1.3). Because of exhaustion of oil reserves, oil revenue is likely to peak between 2011 and 2013. The diversification process the government embarked upon in order to counteract decreasing oil revenues may be threatened by low oil prices.

Communication (2.2). In 2007, 3.3 million cell phones are already in use, one to each five Angolans. Internet coverage is still low, with in 2007 about 3% of the population being Internet users. Radio is the medium with the highest coverage. Government controls the only news agency, the only daily paper and the national radio station, whereas the state monopoly on TV broadcasting ended in 2006.

The sectoral labour market structure (2.3). In 2000-01, only about 14% of the 15-64 of age economically active worked in the formal sector, as entrepreneurs and wage earners, of which about 23% women. Six out of seven were in the informal sector, of which 55-57% women. We calculated that in 2007 the formal sector had expanded to 970,000, of which over half in civil service and construction.

Legislation (2.4.1). Angola has ratified the core ILO Labour Conventions, and its laws are nondiscriminatory. The General Labour Law lays down rights to paid maternity leave, equal pay, limited working hours, rest periods, etc. A major weakness, yet, is compliance.

Labour relations (2.4.2). 2008 figures may imply an overall 26-28% union density in the formal sector; female union density can be estimated at about 20%. Three union confederations are in place; UNTA-CS and CGSILA are ITUC affiliates. Government influence on collective bargaining seems quite large. The right to strike is strictly regulated.

The statutory minimum wage (2.5.1). A basic national minimum wage exists, with higher rates for the transport, service and manufacturing sectors and for the mining industry, varying from 42 to 51% of the average wage of the formal sector. It remains rather unclear how the yearly uplifts are prepared, communicated and effected.

Poverty (2.5.2). Angolan researchers maintained that in 2007 two in three of their compatriots lived on USD 2 or less a day. Income inequality is extremely high. Poverty distribution is also heavily gendered, with female-headed households forming the majority of the very poor households. In 2006, Angola ranked 157th on the human development index (HDI), 50 places below its GDP per capita rank.

Population and fertility (2.6.1). Till 2002, birth registration in Angola was mostly lacking, and still population statistics are unreliable. Yet, it is clear that the population growth rate is quite high (average 2.7% in 2001-08), as are the total fertility rate (6.1%) and the adolescent fertility rate (165 per 1,000).

HIV/AIDS (2.6.2). The Angolan HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is, with 2.5% (2005), comparatively low. Yet, it may quickly rise as most risk factors are widespread, like the dependent situation of many adolescent girls and young women. Preventive and therapeutic services are still in their infancy.

Women’s labour market share (2.6.3). Though difficult to calculate, the overall labour participation rate of the 15-64 of age (LPR or EPOP) is low and will not exceed 68%, with that of females a few %-points higher. For 2007, women’s share in the formal sector can be estimated at about 28%, or nearly 270,000 women. About one quarter of them can be found in commerce and services.

Agriculture (2.6.4). Agriculture provides employment and income for 60-70% of the Angolan population. Many women working in agriculture make extremely long hours. Only a small share is involved in commercial agriculture, of which about a quarter women.

Maufacturing (2.6.5). Unless recent growth of small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises, Angola has a very small manufacturing sector.

Commerce (2.6.6). More than four of five Angolan women working in commerce does so informally. Recently, retailing shows a rapid growth, with perspectives for female wage employment.

Services (2.6.7). Recently the Angolan government planned to intensify stimulating commercial services, notably tourism and the financial sector. Though investors complain about shortages of skilled employees, this may open up employment opportunities for young women.

Government (2.6.8). Government expenditure focuses especially on investments in infrastructure, and building up technical and construction departments. Under these conditions, the share of women in civil service may not exceed 40%, though larger spending on education and health care may open up more opportunities for women.

Literacy (2.7.1). In the early 2000s, average literacy rates among (young) women were 54-63%, that is about 75% the rates of men. Among the lowest socio-economic groups, only a minority of women is literate.

Education of girls and young women (2.7.2). Statistics on school enrollment in education are rather outdated, but suggest that only about half of all Angolan girls aged 6-11 go to primary school: comparatively a very low share. Especially secondary education shows a wide gap in girls’ participation compared to boys’. There is clearly a need for flexible programs to make up for missed years of schooling of in particular young women.

Female skill levels (2.7.3). In 2001-02, about 24,000 of Angolan female employees were highly skilled and 115,000 skilled. We estimate the current size of the target group of DECISIONS FOR LIFE for Angola at about 70,000 young women in wage employment, while another 25,000 will enter into such employment in the next five years.

Wages (2.8.1). Any reliable wage information on the Angolan formal sector is lacking, thus emphasizing the importance of the WageIndicator for this country.

Working conditions (2.8.2). Likewise, very little is available in writing on working conditions in Angola.


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