Feminism in Brazil

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The origins of feminism in Brazil trace back to the 19th century. During the Empire of Brazil, some jurists attempted to legalize women's suffrage, with or without the consent of the husband. Later, the republican constitution of 1891 didn't exclude women from voting, because they weren't considered individuals who could have rights. That made some women request, without success, their inclusion among the voters. The 1891 constitution initially had a clause that gave women the right to vote, but it was abolished in its last version because the idea that politics was not an honorable activity for women prevailed.

Some historical moments of this time were important in the advance of women's struggle, such as the 1917 strikes, the rise of the Communist Party of Brazil in 1922 and, in the same year, the Modern Art Week in São Paulo. In 1919, Bertha Lutz, who is considered a pioneer in the Brazilian feminist movement along with Nísia Floresta, founded the Brazilian Federation for Women's Progress, which fought for voting rights and the right to work without the husband's authorization.

Rio Grande do Norte and Minas Gerais were pioneer stats in legalizing the female vote. The first registered female elector was Celina Guimarães Viana. Celina, in 1927, invoked article 17 of Rio Grande do Norte's electoral law, which states: In Rio Grande do Norte, all citizens who meet the condictions determined by Law, will be able to vote and be voted, without gender distinction. On 25 November, 1927, she requested to be included among the voters, a request which judge Israel Ferreira Nunes approved.


The republican constitution of 1891 already assured women the right to vote, depending on how it was interpreted. Article 70 stated that are electors all citizens who are above 21. The term "citizens", according to the interpretation of the time, referred only to men. Women only effectively got the right to vote in 1932.

20th century[edit]

First female voters in, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, in 1928.
Integrants of the Brazilian Federation for Women's Progress, in 1930.

In Brazil, the feminist movements were inspired by the European struggles. Nísia Floresta is one of the first to manifest herself as a force in the pursuit of equality for women, as well as Bertha Lutz, who created the Federation for Women's Progress, in 1930; and Jerônima Mesquita, who fought for women's right to vote and tool part in several social and philanthropical activities.[1][2][3]

1960s and 1970s[edit]

In the 60s and 70s, feminism eclodes in Europe and in the US and got its impulse from the political and cultural upheavals those regions were going through, which challenged the conservative values of society, and in this context that the book The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir was published.[1][2][3]

However in Brazil the scenario was very different. The country was going through a right-wing military dictatorship. In the height of repression, the feminist movement emerged again through the hands of Romy Medeiros da Fonseca. This movement widened the range of the demands, including the principle of equality between husband and wife in marriage and the introduction of divorce in Brazilian legislation.[1][2][3]


From 1980 onwards, the accomplishments of the feminist movement were great, as a consequence of all the previous years of struggle.In 1980, the show TV Mulher (TV Woman) aired in the Rede Globo TV network, in which themes such as kitchen and decoration were discussed. Later, the necessity to talk about the body, sexuality and freedom arose. The female spectators sent their doubts concerning sexual freedom and curiosities about their own bodies to the host, Marta Suplicy. A need for liberation was perceptible in women. Brazilian music was taken by singers of great success, such as Simone, Rita Lee, Maria Bethânia, Fafá de Belém and Joana. Many songs turned into icons of the time: Começar de novo (Simone), Atrevida (Simone), Cor de rosa choque (Rita Lee).[1][2][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d IV Seminário CETROS Neodesenvolvimentismo, Trabalho e Questão Social – Fortaleza – CE – UECE – Itaperi, ed. (29-31 de maio de 2013). "As Trajetórias e Lutas do Movimento Feminista no Brasil e o Protagonismo das Mulheres" (PDF). Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (ed.). "O feminismo no Brasil: suas múltiplas faces".
  3. ^ a b c d "Uma História do Feminismo no Brasil" (PDF). 2003.