It’s not new that Suzana Pires balances her life between her artistic career and what she calls her mission: empowering women. In 2017, the actress started a column, in the online version of Marie Claire Magazine, called ‘Dona de Sí’. There, she wrote her thoughts, experiences and points of view about the difficulty a woman encounters in developing her own professional path. In just a few months, it became the space with the highest audience on the women’s platform. Afterwards, the column migrated to Vogue Magazine.
“The project was born when I reached leadership positions and understood how difficult it is for a woman to build her own path, in any field. If it was difficult for me, a woman with so much privilege, imagine for women that they didn’t have so much support?!”, she asks.
It didn’t take long for Dona de Sí to become a brand of feminine products and even a women’s empowerment institute. Currently, the Dona de Si Institute even has a headquarters, provided by Rio City Hall, Casarão dos Prazeres, which is located in Morro dos Prazeres, in Santa Teresa.
“The institute was born out of this discomfort of mine, the inequality between the conditions of us, women, and men. Not only in the professional sphere, but in all areas”, says Suzana. “Then, I joined a group of brilliant women so that, together, we could create content that would make a difference. Between them, we created the Dona de Si journey, which is our training in entrepreneurship, combined with various practices so that the women we serve can change their financial lives, gaining their autonomy”, he adds.
Currently, the Dona de Sí institute maintains 200 scholarship holders in its digital course, has directly accelerated more than 1000 women, and impacted more than 2 million women, since the first reading of the column until today.
Audiovisual in the USA
Artistic life, however, was not left aside. So much so that in December she radically changed her look: she shaved her head to play an oncology patient in “Cancer with Virgo Ascendant”, a film in which she stars opposite Marieta Severo.
“If the delivery isn’t complete, don’t even call me!” says Suzana. Cinema is so present in the life of the actress and women’s rights activist, that next week she embarks on a long stay in Los Angeles, where she will stay until May, initially, working on projects in this area. Last year she also spent an extended period in the United States, after signing a contract with an international studio to create a series.
Before boarding, Suzana had a meeting with Érica Paes. A former MMA athlete and pioneer of female jiu jitsu in the country, Érica is today one of the most important female safety experts in Brazil and created Empoderadas — a recognized and award-winning program to combat female violence. The two plan a partnership soon, each with their own way of fighting for women’s rights. Suzana with Dona de Sí, and Érica with Empoderadas.
During the meeting, the two also remembered the time when Érica frequented the TV Globo studios. For those who don’t know, the former athlete’s life served as inspiration for author Glória Perez to create Geisa, Paolla Oliveira’s character in the soap opera “A Força do Querer”. In the nostalgic plot, Erica provided consultancy and ended up winning a prominent role in the soap opera.
“I dream of a partnership with Érica, through Empoderadas, with regard to combating violence against women. It is a very serious work, which changes women’s lives”, praises Suzana.
The Empoderadas Program works to prevent and combat gender-based violence, and was created in 2019 by Erica Paes, a specialist in women’s safety and founder of IDMEP (Instituto de Defesa da Mulher Erica Paes). Prevention is the basis of Empoderadas’ methodology, which takes to its centers throughout the state of Rio, tatami mats and teachers graduated in martial arts, trained by Erica. These professionals are prepared to offer education, raise awareness of rights and identify signs of violence, always acting preventively.
The Program has been operating for four years and, throughout this time, provides assistance, professional courses and a support network that includes lawyers, psychologists and social workers to better welcome its students. And it continues to expand. Today, there are more than 80 active centers throughout Rio de Janeiro and around one million and three hundred thousand women have already been welcomed.