Lack of Female Representation in Legislation

By Alinne Lopes Gomes

Women in Brazil and the lack representation on the Brazilian Legislative branch of government. 

Photo by Luke Michael on Unsplash
shape0Brazil’s Senate’s percentage of female participants was 16% at the time of the compilation for the research, while the Chamber of Deputies decreased the representation to 10,7%.”

Carlota Pereira de Queirós (1892 - 1982) was the first woman to be elected as a member of the National Congress. She was appointed for the Chamber of Deputies in 1934 by the State of São Paulo and participated directly on the elaboration of the 1934 Constitution. Carlota advocated for women, children and minority rights and occupied her post until 1937, when Vargas’ government closed Congress. As the first Congresswoman at a Federal level, she stood for women’s political guarantees and access to education. 
In the same year, Maria do Céu Fernandes de Araújo (1910 – 2001) became the first Legislative Representative to be elected at a State levelShe constituted the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Norte and stayed in office until 1937. Maria do Céu was affiliated to the Popular Party under a platform of renovation of the political boards and a symbol for women’s progress in the public life. 
Antonieta de Barros was born in 1901 and became, in 1934, the first black Legislative Representative elected in the State of Santa Catarina; her candidature was the first to be successful in any State. Like Carlota and Maria do Céu, she stayed in in office until Getúlio Vargas’ institution of the New Sate. In 1947, she was once again elected, having worked her whole life towards protecting and improving education. She was a politician, journalist and writer and died in 1952.
Antonieta, Maria do Céu and Carlota are examples of female pioneer work in the Legislative branch; their participation in political life and fight for the right to share the power of drafting the normative regulations which rule society have become a symbol for female empowerment. It is vital to recognize the long way passed to get to the country’s contemporary scenario. 
Information compiled from the Federal and State public registries shred light over the current situation of women inside the Legislative houses. The numbers don’t reflect the social reality. In the table above it is possible to analyze an institutional lack of female representation across the country. The disparity between female presence in the population and their equivalence in power is a sign of a bigger problem.
In 2015, it was discovered by the country’s Census organ (IBGE) that Brazil has a gender unbalance of close to 6 million more women. The disparity serves to further preoccupy the lack of reflection in government; most of the population doesn’t compose even half of the representatives shaping rights and establishing laws. In fact, the only State closer to a healthy balance between men and women in the Legislative Assemblies is Amapá with females representing 45.8% of the members.  
Brazil’s Congress is composed of two individual houses; the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The members are elected separately and vary in quantity; while the first house is composed of 513 members distributed proportionally in between the States, the second has 81 vacancies. Women’s presence in those houses mirror the problematic; there are only 13 female Senators against 58 males and only 55 female federal deputies against 458 males. 
The space opened for women by the works of the pioneers of the past century are not being enforced in Brazil. The possibility remains there, but in practice it is not exercised. The inequality of opportunities in politics is intertwined with a forced lack of interest pushed into the younger generations; girls are systematically not motivated to take part in the public life. It is crucial that the gender disparity is corrected to better reflect Brazilian society; incentives for girls to get involved, fortification of the women drafting legislation and a change of general mentality are only a few possible actions which could ensure that laws affecting women are not being solely drafted by men. 

This article is extracted from the Research paper titled 'LGBT Policies and Overall Safety in Brazil'  in Chapter 4 of the Safety Report by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation 'Safety First for Girls'.

The Safety Report by SAFIGI is a two-fold Open research on 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The first part of the Safety Report is a Research Paper. The second part is a detailed Data Analysis. 

The Safety Report Research paper is titled: 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The paper starts with an abstract before focusing on subjects in the key regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. A total of 7 Research papers make up the safety Report (sans the introduction and conclusion), including:

  1. The psychological effect of mass sexual harassment on girls in Egypt (P.24) by Heba Elasiouty.
  2. Safety concerns in relation to social media: Growing up female in an increasingly digital world (P.45) by Karin Temperley.
  3. Psychosocial challenges faced by parents raising children with physical disabilities in Oshana region (P.68) by Misumbi Shikaputo.
  4. Gender-based violence and subsequent safety challenges experienced by Rohingya women (P.119) by Shucheesmita Simonti.
  5. LGBT policies and overall safety in Brazil (P.141) by Alinne Lopes Gomes.
  6. Silent voices‘: Violence against the female body as consequence of machismo culture (P.177)  by Steffica Warwick.
  7. America‘s Public Policy on Sexuality: The Repression of Girls in Vulnerable Populations (P.208) by Dr. Christina Sisti.

SAFIGI Outreach Foundation Ltd, a volunteer-based and youth led NGO registered in Zambia, implemented the Safety Report in order to understand the multifaceted concept of safety and how it applies to the female gender in diverse settings. And therefore, further prove safety is intrinsic, and that vices in society stem from an intimate level of the human being before its manifestation. This way, when we create safety solutions, whether it be in a developing nation, conflict zone, refugee camp, or patriarchal society, the problem is resolved from a deeply rooted cause. Such that, we treat the disease itself and not mere symptoms.

This study is as a result of collaborative effort pursued in the spirit of volunteerism via UN Online Volunteers.


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