Afro-Brazilian Women Run for Office: The Answer to Underrepresentation

by: Anonymous
Image: PT na Câmara / Flickr

Race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and social standing are just some examples of  what makes people different from one another. These differences, along with many others, are what make diversity possible in our world. Unfortunately, for all of those who believe that diversity is a source of beauty, there are just as many people who use these differences as divisive factors to perpetuate the spread of hate, prejudice, and inequity. It seems that for every ounce of positivity that brightens our world there will always be at least a drop of negativity that counteracts it. The history of our world seems to further validate this idea of the balance between light and darkness. Will we ever be able to completely rid our world of the negativity that has plagued it in the past and continues to this day? The answer to this is unknown, but one fact does remain: there are always actions that can be taken to lessen the spread of hate.

One way to potentially lessen the spread of hate and cut down on daily struggles of certain communities would be to ensure that each community is accurately represented in government. Those with African descent in Brazil make up over 50% of the total population, yet these individuals only make up about 17% of Congress. According to the North American Congress on Lation America, Women with African descent in Brazil account for 26% of the population but only about 5% of Brazil’s legislative councils. This under-representation of Afro-Brazilian women has been a historical trend. The right to vote in Brazil was not universalized until 1985, and prior to this, there were restrictions based on income, sex, and literacy. When it comes to positions such as governors and mayors, the under-representation is quite blatant. Back in 2014, only six of the 27 state governors elected were Black and only one governor was a woman. No Black women were elected as governors in the 2014 and 2018 elections. 

Despite the under-representation of Black women, their presence in office was not completely void. Marielle Franco was a Black councilwoman and a member of the LGBTQ+ community who was assassinated back in 2018. She shed light on conditions that impoverished Blacks went through in the country, and she fought for changes to improve their conditions. Despite what most would think, her tragic death actually led to an increase of Black women running for office. Three former advisors to Franco ended up becoming state deputies and one ended up becoming a federal deputy. 

As previously mentioned, one way to potentially lessen the spread of hate and cut down on the daily struggles faced by certain communities would be to ensure that each community is accurately represented in the government. This would allow people in power to shed light on issues that people in their communities face and bring in a variety of first-hand experience unique to the communities they belong to. In Brazil, Afro-Brazilian women running for office are shedding light on many issues that they and people in their communities have experienced; this ranges from general concerns such as racism and sexism to specific issues like budget cuts to the Public Health Care system that stand to hurt Black Brazilians especially. In addition to providing this first-hand experience and perspective, having more Afro-Brazilian women in office could also create a sense of security and solidarity among Black women in Brazil.

Day by day the world we live in continues to change. Having a diverse group of people in government will hopefully help communities feel understood and see more changes for the better. Even if there is a drop of negativity for every ounce of positivity, taking actions to reduce hate and hardships will only help the light of positivity shine brighter. 

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