Carmen Pereira

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Carmen Pereira
President of Guinea-Bissau
In office
14 May 1984 – 16 May 1984
Prime MinisterVictor Saúde Maria
Preceded byJoão Bernardo Vieira
Succeeded byJoão Bernardo Vieira
Personal details
Bissau, Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau)
Died4 June 2016 (aged 78–79)
Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
Political partyAfrican Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde

Carmen Pereira (1937 – 4 June 2016) was a politician in Guinea-Bissau. She served three days as Acting President in 1984, becoming the first woman in this role in Africa and the only one in Guinea-Bissau's history. She had the shortest term as the Acting President, serving only three days in office. She died in Bissau on 4 June 2016.[1]

Early life[edit]

Carmen Pereira was the daughter of one of the few African lawyers in the then Portuguese colony. She married at a young age, and both she and her husband became involved in the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence against Portugal following the 1958-61 wave of Decolonization which liberated Guinea-Bissau's neighbors from European rule.[2]

Independence struggle[edit]

Pereira's political involvement began in 1962, when she joined the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), a revolutionary movement that sought independence for Portugal's two colonies in West Africa. She and her husband were both active in the party. Her husband had been involved in the party longer, and she had married young. In 1966, the PAIGC Central Committee began mobilizing women on an equal basis as men, and Pereira became a revolutionary leader, a Political Officer, and a commander.

While very few women fought in the front lines, the PAIGC was exceptional it pushing for greater gender equality in a society with strongly defined sex roles. Other such women leaders who emerged from this effort in the PAIGC included Teodora Gomes, and most famously, Titina Silla. Pereira became a high-ranking political leader and delegate to the Pan-African Women's Organization in Algeria.[2] Compelled to leave the country, she lived in Senegal before traveling to the Soviet Union to study medicine.[3]


Later, on her return to Guinea-Bissau, she was active both in health and political matters. She was elected to the People's National Assembly. She was Deputy President of the assembly from 1973-84.

Between 1975 and 1980, she was President of the Parliament of Cape Verde, then united with Guinea-Bissau. and served as the Assembly's chair during the government of João Bernardo Vieira. From 1981 to 1983 Pereira was Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Guinea-Bissau. Again chosen President of the People's National Assembly from 1984, she left this post in 1989 to become a Member the Council of State.

As President of the National Assembly, she was Acting President of Guinea-Bissau from 14 to 16 May 1984 as a new constitution was introduced.

Pereira served as a Member the Council of State from 1989 to 1990, and was Minister of State for Social Affairs in 1990 and 1991. This last made her Deputy Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau for more than a year. She was dismissed by Vieira in 1992.


  1. ^ "Morreu Carmen Pereira, combatente pela independência da Guiné-Bissau". 2016-06-05. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  2. ^ a b Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (Beth Gillian Raps, Trans.). African Women: A Modern History. Westview Press (1997); ISBN 0-8133-2361-4, pp. 196-97
  3. ^ Barbara Cornwall, The Bush Rebels, Barbara Cornwall, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972, pp. 128-29.

External links[edit]

  • WOMEN IN POWER 1940-1970, Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership,; retrieved 20 January 2009.
  • Stephanie Urdang. Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau. Monthly Review Press (1979); ISBN 978-0-85345-511-0
Political offices
Preceded by
João Bernardo Vieira
President of Guinea-Bissau

Succeeded by
João Bernardo Vieira