Women Around the World: Brazil

June 1, 2010 | Elizabeth

In 1988, Brazil wrote a new constitution which included legislature which made women completely legally equal to men. Before this radical change in law, Brazil was an extremely traditional and patriarchal country with the strong influence of Roman Catholicism. As early as 1932, women in Brazil had the right to vote and in 1933, Brazilian women were able to work and attend school. They were still required to be submissive in marriage and didn’t possess many rights. In 1977, divorce was made legal. This was the first step for women’s rights in Brazil. Then came the constitution of 1988.

Currently in Brazil, there is an abundance of women in the workforce.  There is also a high number of families with a woman as the single provider of the family. Like the U.S., there is also concern with the wage gap. Women in Brazil earn about 75% of what men make. This is extremely similar to both the U.S. and the last country that was examined in this series, Russia. The literacy rate in Brazil for women highly supersedes that of men in the country. Brazilian women also receive 120 days of paid maternity leave.

Social issues that are pressing for Brazilian women include domestic violence and prostitution. Domestic violence is outlawed but it is highly unreported. Prostitution is legal in Brazil, and it has caused somewhat of an international problem due to sexual trafficking.

Brazilian feminist groups include the National Council on Women’s Rights (Conselho Nacional de Direitos da Mulher–CNDM). Feminist groups began to gain steam in Brazil originally trying to fight for human rights issues but then they shifted to reproductive issues.

Brazil is a prime example of what a country looks like with equality for women and men. Legal equality, such as the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) or the law in Brazil’s Constitution, may not solve all problems for women, men, and society. What do you think?

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