Brazilian women in politics

UFSI Rep. 1987;(14):1-8.


PIP: Women are gradually gaining influence in Brazilian politics, especially since recent advances in the women's movement, but they still play a limited role. There have been journals devoted to feminism and some notable feminists since 1850. In 1932 suffragettes in Brazil gained women the right to vote. Women's associations burgeoned in the 1940s and 1950s, culminating in a peak in number of women in national elected positions in 1965. A repressive military regime reversed the process, which resumed in 1975. 1975 was also significant for the Brazilian women's movement because of the U.N. Women's Year. Several large, influential feminist political action groups were formed, typically by upper class women with leftist views, although some church and union groups from lower classes also appeared. In 1979-1981, the coherence of these groups fell into schism and fragmentation, because of disagreements over the feminist political doctrines and roles, views on legality of abortion, and special interest groups such as lesbians. Another bitter dispute is opposition by leftist women to BEMFAM, the Brazilian Society of Family Welfare, which provides family planning for the poor: leftists oppose BEMFAM because it is supported by funds from "imperialist" countries such as the U.S. There are several types of feminists groups: those that emphasize health, sexuality and violence; those composed of lesbians; those originating from lower classes and unions; publicly instituted organizations. Brazilian law forbids discrimination against women holding public office, but in reality very few women actually do hold office, except for mayors of small towns and a few administrators of the Education and Social Security ministries. Political office in Brazil is gained by clientism, and since women rarely hold powerful positions in business, they are outsiders of the system. Brazilian women have achieved much, considering the low female literacy rate and traditional power system, but their equality continues to be a major challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Americas
  • Attitude
  • Behavior*
  • Brazil
  • Communism*
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Economics
  • Educational Status
  • Gender Identity*
  • Group Processes*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Latin America
  • Organizations*
  • Political Systems
  • Politics*
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychology
  • Public Opinion*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Class
  • Social Problems
  • Socialism
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South America
  • Voluntary Health Agencies*
  • Women's Rights*