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Interview with Eleuteria Amora da Silva - CAMTRA: Working Women's House (Brazil)

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Ms. Eleuteria Amora da Silva

Eleuteria Amora da Silva is a feminist activist with extensive experience in popular education. She is founder and general coordinator of CAMTRA. She holds a degree in History from the Federal University of Ceará and a Specialization in Public Policy (Escola de Governo da Universidade Cândido Mendes). She was member of the National Council for Public Policies for Women for two legislatures, and participated in the Organizing Committees of the Municipal Conferences on Public Policies for Women and was part of the National Executive Secretariat of the World Women's March. She is currently National Director of ABONG and member of the Executive Secretariat of the Civil Society Organizations Platform.

Gender Equality Statistics:

Gender Development Index: 0.993

Gender Inequality Index: 0.408

Classification: 1; high equality in human development amongst genders


Complete Interview with Eleuteria Amora da Silva (Shortened Transcript)

A special thank you to Esther Teixeira and Patricia Medina, who translated our interview with Ms. Eleuteria Amora da Silva.

We interviewed Ms. Eleuteria Amora da Silva on March 1, 2022.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

The first question is about stereotypes in Brazil. What are the most common stereotypes about Brazilian women in 2022?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

Not only in Brazil, but also in some Caribbean countries, and in some African countries too, considering the Brazilian miscegenation including Afro-descendant people, women have stereotypes that are usually attached to their body image. The idea that they have nice bodies or that they're pretty. It is not strange that Brazil is one of the leaders in the number of plastic surgeons. Nevertheless, this stereotype does not really match the hard reality, the hardships faced by women, particularly women who work work who are in a situation of social vulnerability.

It is not only young women, both old and young women, are two sides of the same coin. We're going through the same things, regardless of our age. When I went to Berlin, I saw an ad about shaving, like the Brazilian waxing, which is very famous here in America as well. It’s the idea that you're going to remove all your hair in the name of beauty standards.

I am not condemning or dictating what women should do. If a woman would like to do a complete hair removal, I am not here to reject that, but we should remember that the hair is there for some reason, probably protection, so what is it that makes us go through that procedure? What kind of pressure are we responding to when we do things like that?

We shouldn't forget that these beauty ideals are also connected to our historical process of colonization and miscegenation. You can also celebrate the beauty of Brazilian women per se, but not without forgetting the legacies of slavery and colonization and what that meant for Brazilians and for black women in particular.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

What about roles? What are the roles that Brazilian society identifies with women?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

Dilma Rousseff was the first female president of Brazil. Dilma was elected with the majority of the votes, so not only women voted for her, but also many men. Nevertheless, she was impeached during her second term. I felt sick when I heard discussions about other politicians who were trying to take Dilma down because most of the speeches were not about her as a politician, but as a woman. Most of them were misogynist speeches. There was a sticker of Dilma that people put on their cars. The problem was that they put the sticker right where we put the hose to put gas in the car. They reproduced Dilma’s image and where the hole was supposed to go, they did that as if her legs were spread and when you put the hose to fill the gas up...

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

…And that was common in Brazil?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

It was used by a lot of people, even women who were against her.

This is an example that can help us to imagine the kind of sexism that was involved in her impeachment process.

When women do work, a lot of the work they do most of the time, regardless of if they have children or not, it's connected to ideas of care, which is associated with the role of a mother (maternity roles). You don't necessarily need to be a woman with kids to be placed in positions in the labor force that will associate you with care, in roles connected to the idea of looking after other people. A lot of the jobs performed by women are also connected to gender roles.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

Are there different stereotypes in Brazil defined by age? What about different stereotypes in time or by region? Have you seen these stereotypes changing in the last year in Brazil or do these stereotypes remain?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

Everything I have said so far is connected to misogyny, sexism, ageism, and patriarchy. Brazil has significant regional differences. It's a huge country, and not only will that play a role in the difference between different women, but class also plays a role. The changes in terms of class will affect the type of access that women will have. For example, life expectancy is longer among people who have more money. You might go to the beach and see older women exercising and in good shape, and younger women working at the beach selling things trying to make a living. But in terms of sexuality, there is a misunderstanding that would affect women from across class, which is the idea that older people do not have sexual desire, even though medicine has evolved so much to allow all of us to live longer. In relation to the age difference among women, unemployment rate now amongst the youth in Brazil is very high.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

What are the most important problems that Brazilian women have today? Are these problems different according to socioeconomic status and ethnic origin?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

The three most important problems that women are facing in Brazil now are hunger, unemployment, and femicide. Only during the first two weeks of February alone, 33 women were killed, just for the sake of being women in Brazil.

Domestic labor is the most important profession occupied by women in Brazil. It was in 2014 when Dilma’s government passed a law: since then domestic workers have had the same rights as any other worker under the workers’ labor law. It included: vacation or limited working hours. Domestic workers did not have that kind of safety. It was granted for them as a result of the passing of this law. Nevertheless, and as a result of COVID-19, domestic workers was the category that lost more jobs in Brazil. The unemployment rate among domestic workers as a result of the pandemic is very high compared to other professions.

Casa da Mulher Trabalhadora has been filing formal complaints to free women who have been domestic worker for 10 or 20 years in conditions that are analogous to slavery in Brazil, still today.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

What can you tell us about gender-based violence, and gender-based violence in Brazil? What is the government doing to deal with the situation?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

It's not only the number of women who are killed every day. It is also that every 15 seconds a woman in Brazil suffers some kind of physical or sexual assault, even with the legislation passed to protect women. For example, there is a very recent law know as Lei Maria da Penha. Some of the changes brought by this law are, for example, putting in place police stations specifically for women to receive complaints from women that suffer abuse and domestic violence. Also, It is very important that there are shelters to receive these women. Nevertheless, I disagree with the relevant role given to shelters. With these shelters we are jeopardizing a woman who is already in distress. The victim is usually isolated and far from her family. It is almost a punishment.

I think education is key to fight those structural issues, particularly sex education and a form of education that would go against the idea of gender roles. I am talking about an education that goes beyond reinforcing violence in the socialization of boys (that is the case when we give them guns as toys). We should stop educating girls giving them only dolls that would somehow mimic maternal roles. We need to change that and bring more diverse, educational strategies to fight these kinds of structural problems.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

How common is sexual harassment at a woman’s day job and workplace?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

Sexual assault or sexual harassment is very common, particularly among domestic worker. Unfortunately, it is very hard to prove it. Social hierarchy plays a very important role in this kind of issue. These women are hired to clean. Nevertheless, those trying to hire one often ask for pictures. It's a very common practice in Brazil today. Some employers also ask for their measurements, claiming that that it's for tailoring their uniform, but we have received complains about male employers who actually end up trying to physically abuse and rape a female employer later on. It's important to stress that women are strong and are fighters. I think that women suffer this kind of violence because they do not want to subjugate any longer.

In this case too, public policies and education are essential to deal and put an end with this terrible problem in Brazil.

Juan Carlos Sola-Corbacho

Now, imagine, tomorrow, you wake up and somebody addresses you as the new President of Brazil. What is the very first thing you would implement in Brazil?

Eleuteria Amora da Silva

The very first thing that I would do is to pass a law that would make men share the housework equally with women. The second one would be a law granting all women access to education. I would implement another law guaranteeing women their right to walk freely on the streets, without the fear of being assaulted or harassed. Finally, I would forbid to identify gender and colors: pink with women, and blue with men.

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