Over the last weeks, the context of high polarization has increased. How does his arrival change things for women?
Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's new President, took office on January 1st after being elected with 50.90% of the valid votes (60.3 million) against President Bolsonaro's 49.10% (58.2 million votes) on October 30th. Over the last few weeks, the context of high polarization has increased. How does his arrival change things for women?
Lula returns to power: not the best start.
Since the election of President Lula, protesters against the election results have promoted demonstrations and different road blockades. Even if former president Bolsonaro accepted the results of Lula da Silva's victory, he questioned the voting system and encouraged the country's polarization at the end of his mandate. In this line, the protesters doubt the authenticity of the electoral results and how Congress and the Supreme Court of Justice are constituted. Although the protest actions were substantially peaceful at the beginning, violence took place in Brazil on January 8, when protesters invaded the Congress, the Presidential Palace (Planalto), and the Federal Supreme Court. Political instability grew to the point that some sectors thought of the possibility of military intervention; however, police forces controlled the protests. The invasions have been covered by regional and international media, and the situation in Brazil has had important international repercussions. Several political leaders and heads of State, from different sides of the political spectrum, have shown their rejection of the actions of the protesters against democracy.
There are still a few mobilizations, but the new government has been able to continue functioning. A Part of President Lula's cabinet has already been appointed; however, due to the political instability, some of the government members will be appointed by the end of the month.
Women's rights under Lula da Silva's mandate
Lula has recently mentioned on several occasions the importance of guaranteeing women's rights and promoting their participation in politics. The new President is committed to promoting women's rights and their political influence, as women were very important to his election. Within Brazil, women represent 52% of the electorate, and compared to men, they voted the most for Lula.
With the new appointments in his cabinet, of the 37 Ministries, 11 will be headed by women. Although the cabinet is not evenly divided in terms of gender – 70% of the government will be men-, it is an improvement compared to Bolsonaro's previous government, in which only two ministries were headed by women. As of January 1, 2023, women will lead public policies related to climate action, health, human rights, and gender, among others:
– Marina Silva will be the Minister of Environment; this Ministry will be very important during Lula's mandate since one of his priorities is the defense of the Amazon.
– Sonia Guajajara will be the first indigenous minister at the head of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples.
– Anielle Franco will be the Minister of Ethnic Equality. She will focus on the defense of the rights of Afro-descendant communities.
– Aparecida Gonçalves, who worked directly with President Lula during his previous term, will head the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
– Simone Tebet, a former centrist senator from outside the Workers' Party, will oversee the Ministry of Planning and Budget.
– Nísia Trindade will be Brazil's first female Minister of Health.
– Margareth Menezes, renowned Brazilian singer, will be appointed Minister of Culture.
– Luciana Santos, former federal deputy, will head the Ministry of Science and Technology.
– Ana Moser, Brazilian Olympic volleyball medalist, will be the new Minister of Sports.
– Daniela de Souza Carneiro, a popular congresswoman, will be appointed Minister of Tourism.
– Esther Dwek, a renowned economist, will work closely with the Minister of Planning and Budget, Simone Tebet, in the new Ministry of Public Services Management and Innovation.
President Lula is not far from feminism and women's rights. He recently married Rosangela da Silva, a sociologist that defines herself as a feminist and left-wing activist. According to his public statements, she has been a significant influence in giving more importance to women in his agenda. Regarding women's reproductive rights, Lula supports women's right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy; he says that abortion is a matter of public health that should be guaranteed. He believes that only women should decide on the issue and not men. He is personally against abortion but defends women's reproductive rights as Head of State.
In this sense, Brazil can expect a change to improve the inclusion of women in all areas. Although some of the most powerful ministries in Brazil remain dominated by men – defense, justice, finance, labor, commerce, mining, etc. – the increased participation of women in politics is notable and even consistent with feminist policies.