by Carolina Gabas Stuchi and Gabriela Paula Silva Alves
Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling
In 1917, the first march for women’s suffrage took place in Brazil, which only became a reality in 1932. The celebration of 90 years of the historic reach of the female vote seems to set the tone for the possibility of current achievements: the 2022 elections represent a chance to alter the path of the discussion of women’s rights in Brazil. Occurring in October, the Executive and Legislative elections will challenge the bolsonarismo and the prevailing conservative discourses in the public debate in recent years. But it is not necessary to wait until October to make predictions about white and male dominance of power. In April, the deadline for nominating the names of candidates in the parties ends.
Although democracies considered full are often international references to female participation in politics, Brazilian political parties, in most cases, don’t seem to prioritize the expansion of female presence in the arenas of power. Contrary to the demands of national women’s mobilizations and recent achievements of women’s movements in Latin America, political parties in Brazil continue to bet on silencing women to build power. If they are the ones who decide who participates or not in the electoral dispute, they are also responsible for carrying the concern about the diversity of candidates.
Since 2018, possibly as an effect of the #EleNão (#NotHim) movement, there has been an increase in movements for female representation that refer to a greater effort to strengthen democratic institutions. In this perspective, professor Georgina Waylen argues in “Engendering the ‘Crisis of Democracy: institutions, representation and participation” (2015) that the crisis of democracies also represents the crisis of the masculine, pale and stale model of power, which encourages mobilizations for more elected women. Although the fact that the crisis of contemporary democracies is beneficial to women’s political rights is debatable, it is possible to observe a feminine articulation in recent years.
To face even more political setbacks for women in politics in Brazil and elect more female representation, the Front for the Advancement of Women’s Political Rights (FADPM) works with the main national gender and political organizations. According to their website, FADPM is an articulation of more than 140 projects for gender equality in Brazil. Among them, there are A Tenda das Candidatas, Elas no Poder, and Vote Nelas, which aim to make female candidates more competitive, and Visibilidade Feminina, Projeto Legislativas and Instituto Alziras, working in research and scientific divulgation on the subject.
In addition, the Latino context teaches a lot about ways out of the male overrepresentation scenario, since Latin America has been an important laboratory for measures of gender parity. While Mexico and Bolivia defined gender parity for all levels of power, Argentina, a pioneer of quotas for women, made progress in the achievements of the LGBTQIAPN+ movement, providing reservation of positions for the transsexual population in public administration. Other countries such as Costa Rica and Peru have female participation in their parliaments at around 40%, while the maximum number that Brazil reached was only 15%.
Right now, Chile is writing the first constitution with gender parity in history. The adherence to the reservation of half of the seats for women was the result of a female mobilization with the motto of No Sin Mujeres (“Not without women”) in the context of the 2019 protests. Finally, it became an official request with the consolidation of a document written by 18 jurists with the title of “New Constitution with Gender Perspectives” (2020). Thus, it decided that if gender equality was not achieved as a result of the ballot box, the parity rule would apply to correct the gender disparity.
The New Chilean Constitution will be the most diverse in the world, as in addition to being equal between women and men, it also has a reserve of vacancies for the indigenous population. The political mobilization of natives allied to support indigenous and women as candidates for constituents in Chile points our attention to the error of defending gender parity without understanding other identities besides “gender”. Perhaps the greatest symbol of this intersectionality would be the first president elected to the Chilean constituent, Elisa Loncón.
In the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, there are only 77 women of the 513 deputies, with only one indigenous woman and 13 black women. The Senate, in turn, has only 12 women senators, with only one black woman, with 88 seats. In 2020, the political candidacy of black women in Brazil received less investment than of white women, according to the 72 Horas platform. Likewise, the survey carried out by the Marielle Franco Institute revealed that transsexual candidates are more often victims of political violence than cisgender women in Brazil. Gender parity, therefore, is a powerful tool for democratic health, but it must be used in a way that does not reinforce privileges and can understand the world outside a cisgender binary logic.
Despite the advancement of the gender discussion in neighboring nations, in Brazil, the commitment to female representation by political parties is, in most cases, out of step with the notes of the growing academic production on the subject. Brazil continues to discuss a cis male and white future, frequently not considering women as leaders. For example, the approval of PEC 18/21 represented yet another setback for female candidates. Among its actions, the amendment grants amnesty to parties that did not meet gender and race funding quotas in 2020.
As Latin America advances as a reference in achievements for women around the world, female silencing permeates the low nomination and investment in women candidates in the Brazilian scenario. Therefore, for those who seek to promote democracy, welcoming the proposals that focus on gender and race must be a priority. It is necessary to remind Brazilian political parties that the voting position is not the only one to be occupied. As Brazil celebrates nearly a century of women’s right to vote, it is important to remember that suffrage was once a dream that seemed impossible, just as gender parity in Brazilian politics is today. Parity does not just mean filling vacancies, it guarantees new perspectives, it is through them that historical agendas can enter the public agenda and gain consistent formulations. The path to achieving gender parity is designed by national movements and illustrated by neighboring countries — it just needs to have the courage to march.
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Carolina Gabas Stuchi is a PhD in State Law from University of São Paulo (USP), professor of Public Policy at Federal University of ABC (UFABC). Coordinator and co-creator of the Extension Project – “Legislativas” Gender and Policy Studies Group of UFABC. Has professional and teaching experience in the areas of Public Law, Public Administration and Public Policies, working mainly on the topics of State, Government, Social Assistance and Gender. E–mail: email@example.com.
Gabriela Paula Silva Alves is an undergraduate student at Federal University of ABC (UFABC) in Humanities Sciences and has an undergraduate scholarship supported by Sao Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP) in Political Science. Student and co-creator of the Extension Project – “Legislativas” Group for Gender Studies and Policies of UFABC. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carolina Gabas Stuchi and Gabriela Paula Silva Alves (2022) "90 years of women’s suffrage in Brazil: when will women win the right to be elected?". Brazilian Research and Studies Blog. ISSN 2701-4924. Vol. 3 Num. 1. available at: https://bras-center.com/90-years-of-womens-suffrage-in-brazil-when-will-women-win-the-right-to-be-elected/, accessed on: February 1, 2023.