Empowerment

Rousseff impeachment galvanizes Brazilian feminists from all sides of politics

Women shout slogans in support of suspended President Dilma Rousseff at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 17, 2016. (REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

When she was Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff’s administration could be polarizing when it came to feminist activism — some wanted to work with her government, while others felt progress for women’s rights was woefully inadequate. In the wake of her impeachment, however, there has been some unification, with almost all feminists agreeing the action against her was sexist and discriminatory.

Since December last year, when Eduardo Cunha, head of Brazil’s Congress lower house started impeachment procedures against his political opponent, new movements, such as Mulheres Pela Democracia (Women for Democracy) have been established, and thousands have taken to the streets to demonstrate their support for Rousseff, and for women’s rights more generally.

And there is plenty to organize around, writes Ani Hao, the founder of feminist collective Agora Juntas, in The Guardian. A raft of bills has been introduced that degrade the already parlous status of women in Brazil: from defining personhood from the moment of conception, to prohibiting discussion of gender in the National Education Plan; further criminalizing legal abortions for victims of rape, and increasing the penalty for abortion in the wake of the Zika virus. Violence and sexual violence also remain endemic across the country.

In October, during Brazil’s “feminist spring” (Primavera das Mulheres), hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to protest sexual violence, pedophilia, and the bills that aimed to limit reproductive rights. Social media, such as #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (My First Assault) and another aimed at removing Rousseff’s perceived nemesis Eduardo Cunha, have taken off. Last month, hundreds of thousands of women, in Brazil and Argentina, protested under the banner Por Todas Elas (For All Women.)

Nevertheless, women’s rights activists are remaining vigilant, citing “insults” such as the appointment of conservative Fatima Pelaes as the secretary of politics for women in Michel Temer’s government, as cause for alarm and a strong incentive to oust Temer.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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