Many women in Cape Verde are actively working to upgrade the status of women in the country and are playing a major role in development programs. The small country of Cape Verde, 455 kilometers off the coast of Senegal, obtained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Even before independence many women were politically conscious and women's rights were a part of the program of Cape Verde's liberation movement. In 1978 the National Women's Organization was formed. The organization places a high priority on education for women and is promoting a large scale literacy campaign. During the colonial period most of Cape Verde's land was destroyed and the country's economy was ruined. A large proportion of the Cape Verde's male population emigrates to other countries in order to obtain work, and the women are left behind to raise their large families on their own. There is a great need to intensify efforts to restore the land's fertility and to control erosion. The country also needs schools, clinics, and transportation and communication networks. Many women are involved in a large water and conservation program supported by Oxfam and other international agencies. Women are encouraged to work on construction jobs, drive trucks and build dikes. Old attitudes are hard to change, however, and there is a need to involve a larger segment of the female population in the women's rights movement. In December, 1980 the Women's Organization will hold its 1st National Conference. The organization will map its future strategies for upgrading the position of women in Cape Verde society and for increasing support for the women's movements.