Superheroines in Action!

A tribute to women who are rolling up their sleeves for a fairer Brazil for all

March 8th is a day to celebrate the accomplishments and impact of women in their countries and communities. International Women’s Day was created to reflect on the challenges and contributions of women around the world. Throughout the world, women still face discrimination and unequal opportunities. The numbers of women in managerial positions, politics, sports and places of justice are still low; and this lack of representation in so many areas prevents them from advancing in their struggle.

Today and throughout the entire month of March (Women’s History Month), BrazilFoundation is celebrating the leaders and initiatives that give dignity and voice to girls and women across Brazil. Here are three grantees from the past year:

A Second Chance for Incarcerated Women

When Carmem Botelho, Director of Centro de Recuperação Feminino de Ananindeua – COOSTAFE (a women’s penitentiary in Pará), analyzed the demographics of the women there, she noticed that most were above the age of 40 and first-time convicts. “Many had turbulent marriages, suffered domestic violence, or have many children to take care of by themselves,” she says. Carmem realized that most of the women were illiterate, had no professional skills and were not aware of their rights, leading them to become involved in criminal activities out of despair.

It was then that she decided to start a professional training program inside the prison. The program began with the inmates teaching each other how to sew and embroider, with the finished products being sold and the profits divided among them. Her idea grew and eventually a cooperative was formed.

COOSTAFE provides courses in handicrafts and sewing so that incarcerated women can reintegrate into society without returning to crime. The program has already worked with 250 women, and there is no record of recidivism among them. Carmem’s initiative is generating tangible results and, with the support of BrazilFoundation, 27 women participated in sewing, embroidery and handicraft classes in 2018.

Promoting Safer Pregnancies in the Amazonian Region

In Maués, in the state of Amazonas, physiotherapist Patrícia Delpino is promoting the work of midwives, who are responsible for most of the births in the region. Maués’ 60,000 residents live across villages and rural communities with inadequate health services. Isolation, need for boat access, combined with the high cost of gas exacerbate health risks for pregnant women who live there. As a result, pregnant women may undergo unnecessary cesarean sections, experience unsafe births, and go without important post-partum support.

And that’s where Mama Ekos, founded by Patricia, comes in. Mama Ekos works to promote safer, healthier pregnancies and access to knowledge that can prevent illnesses. They bring together knowledge from midwives and health professionals to meet World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and offer humanized support that respects local culture and ancestry.

In 2018, BrazilFoundation’s support made it possible to hold meetings to exchange knowledge about maternity, as well as exchanges between indigenous midwives and maternity homes of national reference, benefiting 100 people. “What motivates the project is the great knowledge that exists in the region and how much the history of medicine has used popular knowledge, but never valued due to the origin of midwives,” says Patricia, founder of Mama Ekos.

Entrepreneurial Training Broadening Horizons and Increasing Incomes

In Rio de Janeiro, Gênero Importa offers entrepreneurship training for women street vendors to develop their business skills in the informal economy. Through workshops on management and marketing techniques, the women acquire knowledge and learn tools to run their business in a more strategic and profitable way.

The initiative was created by a group of women who came together to conduct a study on women’s careers and women in the workforce. With support from BrazilFoundation, 23 women street vendors participated in free workshops on entrepreneurship, finance, management and personal and professional development in 2018. “It is important that street women see their work seriously, both in terms of their rights and the role they play in urban economy. “- Gênero Importa Team

Learn about more projects supported by BrazilFoundation that focus on women here. On International Women’s Day, consider making a donation to help fund more initiatives for women in Brazil.