Note from BW of Brazil: The story of the black woman of Brazil remains an under appreciated chapter of Brazilian history. Continuously portrayed as either maids or dancing Carnaval mulatas, her story is not taught in schools or documentaries in the mass media. And as the black woman remains on the bottom of society in nearly every statistic related to quality of life, it remains a challenge to push forward policies specifically targeted at this segment of the population. As such, a number of black women’s organizations have been continued the struggle to keep this issue in the public eye. As such, in recent years there have been a number of books, seminars and conferences dedicated to this agenda (see related articles). Below is the most recent example that took place in the southern state of Santa Catarina.
Event pays homage and discusses public policies for black women
by Michelle Dias
Colloquium was organized by the Programa Antonieta de Barros (Antonieta de Barros Program (or PAB) of the Legislative Assembly. PHOTO: Solon Smith/ Agência AL
The Legislature Assembly out on the Colóquio Mulher – Mulheres Negras (Women’s Colloquium – Black Women), on Thursday evening (13), initiated by the Programa Antonieta de Barros (PAB). During the meeting, set for the week in which we celebrate International Women’s Day (08), subjects were debated around the perspective of life and health of black women in Brazil.
Ioná Maria Cardoso, representative of União de Negros pela Igualdade (Unegro or Union of Blacks for Equality), spoke about the concerns that guides health in regards to gender and color. “Our concern with women’s health is to focus on the perspective of that care in order that SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde or Unified Health System) can make it universal and broad, but also know that social, cultural, political and structural factors mean that women are placed in a situation of social vulnerability. If we did the profile of gender and color, we realize that black women get sick and die sooner, depending on the conditions of work and social life to which they are subjected.”
Ioná also addressed the reproductive perspective and assessed that one cannot think only of this stage of life when it comes to health, but we must take into account both the physical and mental health throughout the period of life. “Historically we know that women play multiple roles within and outside the home, caring for children, (their) husbands, family and end up neglecting their own health. Thinking about public policies that promote self-care and motivate women, mainly in the peripheries (of cities), to seek help for prevention and treatment is our main goal with this symposium,” concluded Ioná.
Jeruse Romão, teacher and representative of the Instituto Cultural Luisa Mahin (Luisa Mahin Cultural Institute), made a historic redemption of the arrival of Africans to Brazil and introduced the roles played by blacks as protagonists of forced labor and little recognition. Jeruse also discussed the struggles and achievements and highlighted characters that have marked the history of blacks in Brazil, such as the black woman Liberata, a slave bought by a gentleman who lived in the old Vila de Paranaguá (Rio de Janeiro) in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Liberata of Paranaguá was the first slave to enter into a second instance in the Court of Relation of Rio de Janeiro. Her master had promised her freedom and ended up dying without going to the registry office to fulfill the promise of freeing her. As a slave, Liberata had no right to enter the court or have a voice of her rights. Yet she filed the a request of allegation in court saying that she worked and was raped by her slave master for 40 years, could not take care of her children because she had to take care of the children of ‘Sinhazinha’ (slave master’s wife). The judge ruled in favor of her cause and freed the slave.
Antonieta de Barros, the first woman to hold a seat in the legislature of Santa Catarina, was also remembered by the teacher, who stated that her memory was one of the motives for the celebration in the event.
During the Colóquio Mulher – Mulheres Negras (Women’s Colloquium – Black Women), black women who have excelled in the social, political and cultural scene of Santa Catarina were honored. Uda Gonzaga, 76, was one of the honorees. An Carnival icon, Uda was the theme of the of the Samba School Embaixada Copa Lord parade at this year’s Carnaval. The teacher retired after 40 years at the helm of the Escola Lúcia Nascimento Mayvorme (school), in the neighborhood of Monte Serrat, in the capital city of Florianópolis, but does volunteer work tutoring. She also dedicated herself to the Esporte e Saúde Monte Serrat (Monte Serrat health and fitness) project targeted at 30 children from the ages of eight to 12. “It is a joy to receive this recognition. With the Antonieta de Barros Program I had the opportunity, ten years ago, to meet the Santa Catarina Parliament and participate in the deliberations of activities promoted by the House.”
Marilú de Oliveira, coordinator of Estágios Especiais da Assembleia Legislativa (Special Stages of the Legislative Assembly), evaluates the symposium as an opportunity to enhance the affirmative action policies of gender and youth. “We, of the Antonieta Barros Program, are giving support to the social movement organizations. With these honors, we also hope to exalt the issue of self-esteem of people who make a difference in the state.”
Honorees of the night
- Professora Uda Gonzaga (AMAB)
- Vera Fermiano (ativista Movimento Negro)
- Professora Neli Góes (AMAB)
- Professora Valdeonira Silva dos Anjos (AMAB)
- Professora Altair Alves Felipe (AMAB)
- Professora Jeruse Romão ( Instituto Luisa Mahin e 1ª coordenadora do PAB
Source: Agência ALESC
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