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Practicing feminist solidarity in difficult times in Brazil

A crisis always represents an opportunity, and in the case of Brazil, it represents a great opportunity for new feminist solidarity. The current economic, political, and social crisis in Brazil is complex but complete, and in the midst of a rapidly changing historical moment, one thing is certain: women’s rights are being attacked all over Brazil, especially black and indigenous women from low-income communities. In the last six months alone, different politicians have passed projects to create laws that further criminalize legal abortion for rape victims, emergency contraception, and define personhood from the moment of contraception. Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of the country, has been suspended from her position and the interim president and his government is an all-male, all-white government with a neoliberal economic plan in hand. Since they have assumed power, Brazil has effectively lost 22 rankings in global gender equality and stands to lose much more[1]. This crisis is a historic moment for the women’s movement in Brazil: of solidarity, expansion, and a reinvigorated fight that understands that all women need to be all in. The feminists who have been leading this fight this time also includes many new faces: young feminists who have grown up in the Internet age and are using social media and technology to learn, debate, mobilize, and yes, talk about feminist solidarity[2].

Feminist solidarity in these difficult times in Brazil means crossing party, personal, sexual, racial, and intellectual lines. Feminists are diverse in Brazil, representing intersectional, liberal, black, trans, young, and radical feminism, and have many feminist claims, such as reproductive rights, environmental justice, indigenous rights, black civil rights, poverty and working-class issues, education, and more. However, a feeling of emergency and revolt has led to feminists coming together, first over the internet and then in real life. The Internet-based nature of these mobilizations and debates mean that young feminists and young women have spurred the majority of this “wave” of feminism: they are responsible for organizing many of the protests and grassroots events about feminism in their communities, such as high school occupations and debates/workshops. Internet-based campaigns such as #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (My First Assault) and #ForaCunha (Get Out Cunha – aimed at a powerful sexist politician named Eduardo Cunha) featured mostly young protagonists and garnered hundreds of thousands of publications on Facebook and Twitter. This mobilization led to what became to be considered as the Primavera das Mulheres, or the Feminist Spring in November of 2015, where tens of thousands of women protested in cities across Brazil for the removal of sexist politicians and sexist laws. Since October 2015, feminists have continued to mobilize mass protests across the country in defense of Dilma Rousseff’s legitimate presidency and democracy, and for other feminist priorities, such as the end of rape culture. June 1, 2016 marked the largest feminist mobilization in Brazil’s history, with protests in more than 100 cities across Brazil. Feminists are showing Brazil and the world that they understand that solidarity is necessary and powerful, and that it doesn’t erase inherent differences of opinion and identity.

Ani Phoebe Hao - Agora JuntasAni Phoebe Hao is young feminist living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She’s the founder of Agora Juntas, a collaborative feminist collective building a collaborative feminist house for feminist movements and women in Rio de Janeiro. She’s also a research and advocacy consultant, focusing on young feminists, reproductive rights, and youth policy.

[1] Wentzel, Marina. “Sem ministras, o Brasil cai 22 posicoes em ranking de igualdade.” 25 May 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-36355724>

[2] Rossi, Marina. “As mulheres brasileiras dizem basta.” 4 Nov 2015. <http://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2015/11/03/politica/1446573312_949111.html>

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