The right to vote for women is 92 years old, but the presence of women in politics is still a challenge – 02/23/2024 – Power

The right to vote for women is 92 years old, but the presence of women in politics is still a challenge – 02/23/2024 – Power


The female vote in Brazil was achieved 92 years ago. Throughout this period there were advances in women’s participation in politics, but even today there are demands to be overcome, such as gender parity in parliaments, point out experts interviewed by the Sheet.

“It is impossible not to think that, almost 100 years after winning the vote, [ainda] We have issues that are of the same order as in 1930. This is difficult to deal with”, says Cibele Tenório, journalist and doctoral student in history at UnB (University of Brasília).

Cibele says that having indigenous women representatives within parliament is one of the achievements, but points out that gender-based political violence, for example, is a factor that prevents women from exercising their mandate with ease.

Hannah Maruci, doctor and master in political science from USP and co-director of A Tenda das Candidatas, states that, even with acquired political rights, we still have a low percentage of women in parliament.

“We’re talking about a hundred years from now [do direito ao voto] and we are nowhere near parity, and women still hear speeches very similar to those given in the 1930s,” he said.

She exemplifies by remembering a speech by then president Michel Temer (MDB), during Women’s Day, in which he said phrases such as: “women who know the price of the supermarket” and “that I leave to my wife”.

For Maruci, the struggle of the suffragettes opened up the possibility of questioning the way women were seen in society — linked to domestic chores and maintaining the family.

“This paved the way for other conceptions of women, but we never got over this thought. We continue to see in Congress itself, in debates, when women’s abilities are questioned or when they are considered too emotional to be in politics.”

Only on February 24, 1932, during the Vargas era, female voting was accepted, after the decree of a new Electoral Code.

But the suffragists’ struggle began much earlier. In the 19th century, a group of women who contributed to the newspaper “A Família”, such as professor Josefina Álvares de Azevedo, started a campaign for women’s suffrage.

In 1889, with the end of the monarchy, the republicans called a Constituent Assembly to ensure the new government. The discussion about female suffrage was also included on the agenda.

A group of male deputies began to defend that the right to vote be extended to graduated and single women, but the discussion did not progress.

“Some deputies were willing to promote the cause. It’s curious, because they were even a little ridiculed by other men, as if they wanted to attract the attention of women”, says Maruci.

Years later, in 1910, one of the protagonists of the suffrage movement in Brazil, the Bahian and teacher Leolinda de Figueiredo Daltro founded the Female Republican Party. She was part of a group of teachers, responsible for children’s literacy, who stood up against political inequality.

More than ten years later, in 1922, suffragist Bertha Lutz founded the Brazilian Federation for Women’s Progress with the aim of fighting for women’s civil and political rights.

However, until that moment, neither of the two initiatives guaranteed them the right to vote.

The arguments that prevented progress revolved around the role that women should play in society. There was the idea that they should dedicate themselves to taking care of the home and family. It was believed that, if they voted, this work would degenerate.

There are cartoons from the time that illustrate this thought. In one of them, a woman appears in the center standing, wearing formal clothes, a hat, with a cigarette in her mouth, a cane in one hand and a briefcase in the other. Around her, there is a man holding a baby on his lap, another, sitting in an armchair, crocheting.

Another argument concerned the conception of voting at the time. It was believed that the vote was not individual, but family, that is, the woman would not vote differently than her husband or father, if she was not married, because she would always defend the rights of the family.

“There were also those lower arguments, which come from the conception of women’s biological inferiority, [ao afirmar] that she would be less capable”, said Hannah Maruci.

Women’s suffrage only really came into consideration when the suffragettes approached Getúlio Vargas to talk, after he announced that he would reformulate the country’s electoral code and promote elections for the Legislature.

At that first moment, female voting still had restrictions. Only widowed or single women with their own income could vote. Married women would need their husband’s authorization.

Only with the 1932 Code did women’s vote become valid without exceptional conditions, but it was not yet mandatory for them. From that moment on, women could vote and be voted for.

In total, seven ran for legislative elections: Leolinda Daltro, Natércia da Silveira, Bertha Lutz, Ilka Labarte, Georgina Azevedo Lima, Tereza Rabelo de Macedo and Julita Soares da Gama. Bertha received the most votes.

“If Brazil had adopted the vote when women started asking for it, it would have been a pioneer,” said Marucci. According to her, the Code cleaned up the Brazilian electoral system. However, he guaranteed the vote, but not political equality.

“Voting was not mandatory for women. What did this mean in practice? That many of them would not have permission from their husband or father to vote.”

Bertha was one of the best-known suffragettes. She was a great organizer of the movement by dialoguing with feminists in the United States and with male deputies. Along with her, other women were also important to the movement.

This is the case of Almerinda Farias Gama, a black woman who gained prominence by voting and being voted in the elections for the 1933 Constituent Assembly.

“There were also many women in that group who worked. Almerinda was a typist and an employee. She was a woman who, when she arrived in the group, took on many roles, the main one being the federation’s press officer”, says Cibele, who will have her thesis master’s degree on Almerinda’s trajectory adapted to become a book and published by the publisher Todavia.

In 1945, with the fall of Vargas, the country returned to democracy and a new Constitution was drawn up — the 1946 Charter — which made women’s right to vote mandatory. Years later, in 1988, the Federal Constitution extended the right to vote to illiterate men and women.

According to Cibele, the current movement is to maintain the right. “This Republic is masculine and often admits us under a lot of pressure. Its tendency is to always go back to what it was. We need to be very careful so that there is no setback in the rights achieved and which were very difficult for women in the past”, he concluded.


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