Women in Brazilian politics – Bruna Santos and Txai Mello

Decades ago, in Brazil, women weren’t individuals endowed with rights. They could only work with the permission of their husbands and had no concession to the vote, and many other factors. And this began to change from 1928 when a governor of “Rio Grande do Norte”, one northeastern state of Brazil, authorized the vote of women in elections from that year.

Text on the picture: trancing looks, desires and struggles

Soon after the first Brazilian Women voters, in the same state and the same year we found Alzira Soriano Teixeira, first woman mayor of Brazil. However, the Committee of the Senate Powers did not allow her to conclude her mandate, and have cancelled all the votes of women who had enlisted in the state, despite the result, women’s suffrage had finally achieved a partial victory in Brazil. The right to vote for women was only obtained by the Provisional Electoral Code, established by Decree No. 21,076, on February 24, 1932, but the victory still wasn’t complete. The code allowed only married women with their husband’s authority, widows and those in the high class who were single to vote. The Code of 34 withdrew these determinations and left as the only restriction the mandatory vote, only provided for men and only in 1946 the women’s vote became mandatory also for women. This decree was almost 81 years ago, but from 1964 to 1985, Brazil had a military dictatorship that prevented the vote of both genders, then women exercised their vote for 30 years before the dictatorship and over 30 years later. After this time, the change was noticeable in the female role. Due to this, today it is common for women to run for political offices in Brazil. However we still see a low number of women in politics ecpecially considering that they are in the majority as voters (51.7%). As only 45 of 513 Members of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies are women, representing 8.7% of parliamentarians, this does not accurately represent the public. In the Senate, there are 7 women among the 54 senators (12.96%). In the Constituent Assembly 26 women were elected, or 5.3% of all Members. What about women as presidents? Governors of a whole nation, and leader of the executive power of the country. This would be a fact that if it was considered a century ago, it would be a reason of revolt and criticism. But today, in Brazil we have a first head of state woman, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 with 52% of the vote, compared to 48% of her opponent (Aécio Neves, second favorite for president) during the second round of elections. In Latin America we have only 4 women in this position today: Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica, and 6 in presidential history adding Panama and Nicaragua to this list. However, no woman was dictator in Latin America where, especially in the 70s and 80s abounded authoritarian regimes.

From the left: Cristina Kirchner (President of Argentina), Michelle Banchelet (President of Chile) and Dimla Rousseff (President of Brazil)

We can conclude that even with the existing prejudice, women demonstrate that they are capable and can exercise positions of authority. We see the advancement of women’s role and how they have struggled to win a place in a system that they are still the minority, as in politics, economy, sports, education and much, much more. We can see that the women in the photo show us that it isn’t what is said about their gender that will leave them intimidated to follow their dreams and plans. Show to society that a woman is rather able to achieve their goals despite all criticism and existing oppression.

President Rousseff received the Presidential Sash of Former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silvia. [picture credit: CELSO JÚNIOR/ESTADÃO CONTEÚDO]

“This is the century of opportunities. And this is undoubtedly the century of women! The woman is the new force behind Brazil.” Dilma Rousseff.

3 responses to “Women in Brazilian politics – Bruna Santos and Txai Mello

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