This Wednesday (8), President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party) launched a set of measures focusing on women. The initiatives are symbolic of International Women's Day. The list includes, for instance, the free distribution of sanitary pads, resuming the building of 1,189 daycare centers throughout the country that were suspended, a proposal for equal pay for men and women and the ratification of the International Labor Organization (ILO) 190 Convention.
“There was a time when Women’s Day was celebrated with the distribution of flowers to women, while the other 364 days of the year were marked by discrimination, sexism and violence. Today, we are celebrating March 8 with the respect women deserve,” said Lula, addressing an audience of hundreds of popular leaders that attended the Planalto Palace this Wednesday to watch the announcement. Other relevant names also attended the event, such as former President Dilma Roussef (Workers’ Party).
The minister of Women, Cida Gonçalves, highlighted that the actions announced by the government targets many goals. “What you are seeing here today is a huge collective effort to implement robust public policies to face violence against women, promote gender equality, women's economic empowerment, women's comprehensive health and their permanence in whatever space they want with rights guaranteed.
Another initiative announced at the event is a bill that will be submitted to Congress to promote equal pay for men and women doing the same work. The measure aims to tackle gender pay discrimination, which was on the rise again in Brazil in 2022, recording a pay gap of 21% between male and female workers. This rate was identified in a study by Dieese based on data collected by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, in Portuguese). The rate had shown a decreasing trend in previous years.
Lula also signed decrees and other documents formalizing the following measures: professional courses vacancies for 20,000 women under vulnerable conditions (for the next two years); maternity leave for members of the Athlete Grant Program; 12 million reais (about 2,33 million US dollars) to be invested in cultural projects; creation of the National Policy for Inclusion, Permanence and Development of Girls and Women in Science, Technology and Innovation; and 100 million reais (about 19,5 million US dollars) of the federal budget to action to be announced by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, in Portuguese) aimed at women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
Besides, the government announced a rural technical assistance announcement for female rural workers. It’s part of a program called the Economic and Productive Organization of Women in Rural Areas. It’s expected that 50 million reais (about 9,7 million US dollars) will be used in this initiative, which focuses on 20,000 women.
Protests around the country
In São Paulo, the heavy rain in the late afternoon did not discourage thousands of people that went to Paulista Avenue to attend a Women’s Day act.
The most recurrent demands were for the protection of women’s lives, the fight against fascism, the defense of democracy, accountability of those involved in the January 8 coup mongering acts, legalization of abortion and the right to land and housing. There were also denounces of hunger cases.
Also, about 200 women from the Landless Workers Movement (MST, in Portuguese) made a protest at the headquarters of Salton, in the western area of São Paulo. The act was against one of the most important Brazilian wineries involved in slave labor cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Between the cities of Porto Alegre and Viamão (Rio Grande do Sul state), dozens of women from popular movements gathered for a rally at Lomba do Sabão. Over one hundred local families were relocated because they lived in a risky area due to the possibility of a dam break.
The rally participants also carried out an ecumenical act denouncing the femicide of Débora Moraes, a militant of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB, in Portuguese). The murder occurred in September last year.
In the city of Porto Velho (Rondônia state), women from Via Campesina took to the streets and marched to the state government’s headquarters. They assembled a camp on March 7 with the motto “Amazonian peasants: fighting for life and sovereignty, against hunger and violence”.
Thousands of militants fighting against the sexist system and violence, for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and for food sovereignty.
The focus of the International Women’s Day manifestations in the city of Goiânia (Goiás state) was housing. The participants of the act gathered near the State’s Housing Agency demanding the end of evictions and guarantee of housing in the city and rural areas.
In Altamira, Pará state, women affected by the Belo Monte Hydro Power Plant took to the streets to march under the motto “Women in defense of drinking water as a basic right to life”. The protest denounced the reported non-compliance with one of the main conditions to build the dam, which is to supply the population with water.
At the State Government School in Rio Grande do Norte's capital city, the women who attended the Landless Women Pedagogical Camp marched for the ceremony "Gender equality for a sustainable future." The event was joined by feminist leadership from popular movements, representatives of civil society and partner entities and governor Fátima Bezerra.
On Tuesday, in the city of Curitiba (Paraná), the protests “Women resisting against every kind of violence: for land, housing, work, democracy, and no amnesty” gathered more than 1,500 people. These groups came from rural campsites all over Paraná state.
The group is part of an articulation called “Zero Eviction” (Despejo Zero, in Portuguese) that joins popular movements from the city and countryside. Most of the act’s participants were women, many of them with their kids.
Edited by: Flávia Chacon