Alzira Rufino is a political activist active in the Movimento Negro and the Black Women’s Movement. From a poor black family, having worked since she was a child, at seventeen years of age she was admitted to a hospital as a cooking assistant. She remained in the position for two years, a period in which she won her first literary prize. At nineteen, he began studying in the area of health. Devoting herself seriously, she climbed the various levels of the field until eventually graduating in the field of nursing.
In March of 1985 she organized the first Women’s Week in the metropolitan area of the city of Santos (state of São Paulo), bringing together all of the various women’s organizations. In 1986, she founded the Coletivo de Mulheres Negras da Baixada Santista (Collective of Black Women of Metropolitan Santos), one of the oldest black women’s groups in Brazil. In 1990, she founded the Casa de Cultura da Mulher Negra (CCMN) (Black Women’s House of Culture).
Alzira is an Iyalorixá*, poet and President of the Black Women’s House of Culture (CCMN) and has received numerous honors and distinctions, among them: from the National Council of Brazilian Women, from the Municipal Chambers of the cities of Santos and Cubatão; she was nominated by Brazilian organizations to make part of the non-governmental delegation to the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. In 2005, she was one of the 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She was honored by the Subcommittee of the Black Lawyer (Subsection of Santos, São Paulo Order of Lawyers of Brazil); she was was honored along with CCMN by the Legislature Assembly of the State of São Paulo with the award “Zumbi dos Palmares”; she received the Trophy ANID (Ação Negra de Integração e Desenvolvimento/Black Action of Integration and Development in the city of Barueri, São Paulo.
Since 1991, the activist is a fellow of Ashoka, having coordinated the Feminist Network of Latin American and the Caribbean against Domestic, Sexual and Racial Violence in the sub-region of Brazil (1995 to 1998). The Black Women’s House of Culture (CCMN), chaired by Alzira was the first Brazilian NGO to be accredited by the Organization of American States in 2001.
She has published articles in newspapers and magazines both in Brazil and abroad. She has won several awards for poetry in local and national publications of poetry, fiction and essays.
Some of Alzira’s themes include:
Racial and domestic violence, human rights of black women, anti-racist education, communications and Afro-Brazilian culture, having been the first black woman to create a legal and psychological support service for black and white female survivors of domestic violence in 1990.
Since 2001 she has edited the magazine Eparrei of Black Art and Culture. She edits the bi-monthly Eparrei Bulletin Online and also has made important contributions to the publication of books on health and domestic violence: Violência contra a Mulher – uma questão de Saúde Pública (Violence Against Women – a public health issue)” (1998), Violência contra a mulher – um novo olhar (Violence against women – a new look)” (2000), Violência contra a Mulher & Saúde – Um olhar da Mulher Negra (Violence against Women & Health – A Look at Black Women) (2004).
Due to her output, Alzira is responsible for creating many laws and services: creation of a safe house of Santos (2000), laws against racism and violence against women in Metropolitan Santos, the Creation of the Federal Law of Compulsory Notification of Domestic Violence Services for Private and Public Health (November 24, 2003). The conscious and consequent actions of Alzira Rufino and has influenced or inspired similar work in cities such as Três Corações in the state of Minas Gerais, Goiânia, (state of) Goais, São Sebastião, (state of) São Paulo, São José dos Campos, (state of) São Paulo, and Duque de Caxias, (state of) Rio Janeiro, focusing on cultural revival in creation of legal and psychological services, and income generation.
Consistent with the fight against racism and in favor of black women, quotes of Alzira always refer to self-esteem, appreciation of ethnicity and the struggle, until all forms of oppression, discrimination and prejudice against black people are abolished.
* – A priestess or spiritual leader in sacred houses of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé