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UAMBA, 27 February 2003 (IRIN) - "I came here to the quartering area to try and find my husband, the father of my children," Celita Vasco says. "But when I arrived here I heard that my husband had died in the war. My children have no father." She indicates the baby on her lap: "The father of this child here, also went away.
The number of women in the Angolan National Assembly repre sents 39 per cent of the total number of parliamentarians in the country and the figure meets the world's established quota, according to a report from the Angolan News Agency (ANGOP).
Angola's experience of gender participation in politics and decision making organs was praised at the meeting of the Network of Women MPs of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) held on June 14 and 15 in Sao Tome and Principe.
A special UN representative on Saturday condemned alleged rapes of women deported from Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and demanded an investigation.
"I call upon the authorities of both countries to investigate these allegations," said Margot Wallstroem, the secretary-general's special representative for sexual violence in conflict.
"We do not have an open conflict right nowbut guns keep taking their toll within communities still today," says Josefina Sandemba, a pastor from the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA) who was briefing a Living Letters team visiting the country on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in late July.
Angola's National Defence minister, Cândido Van-Dúnem, on Thursday here praised the determination and role played by women in face of the difficulties of life, especially Angolan women, who have given their best to the promotion of unity and wellbeing of the family and society.
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Women in Angola benefit from the constitution's prohibition of discrimination based on gender. From 1975 until 2002, Angola experience civil unrest. Throughout this conflict, women and children were particularly affected, including the use of women as rewards for soldiers following a victory. Recently, Congolese and Angolan authorities have expelled immigrants from both countries across the border. This deportation has been accompanied by sexual assault for many female immigrants. Angola acceded to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1986. Currently, Angola is ranked at 92 of 136 on the Global Gender Gap Index (GGI). Civil society organizations continue to work to ensure that there is equality in Angola for women in practice to match their legal rights.