Brazil breaks record for female candidacies, but women are still a minority in elections

Brazil breaks record for female candidacies, but women are still a minority in elections
Brazil breaks record for female candidacies, but women are still a minority in elections

They represent 33.3% of the total, but the number is still disproportionate, as they are the majority among voters (53%).

Waldemir Barreto / Agência SenadoSimone Tebet (MDB) is one of four women to run for the Presidency of the Republic in 2022; besides her, only Soraya Thronicke (União) represents a major Brazilian political party

THE number of women candidates broke record in 2022 electionwith a record of 33.3% of total candidacies at the federal, state and district levels, which represents 9,415, according to data from the Superior Electoral Court. Despite this, the number is still disproportionate, as women represent 53% of the Brazilian electorate — or 82 million. Although analysts point to the importance of this share of voters for the decision of the presidential election in 2022, and campaign teams of the strongest names, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (EN) and Jair Bolsonaro (PL), also recognize this factor, women are a minority in the very dispute for the Palácio do Planalto: four of the 12 approved candidacies, repeating the mark of only 33.3%. Are they: Vera Lucia (PSTU), Simone Tebet (MDB), Soraya Thronicke (Union) and Sofia Manzano (PCB). “This scenario of four women for eight men is Brazilian politics! We have, today, a notion in which it is understood politically correct to place women in representative positions, but they are there much more for decoration. Since the 20th century, women have been occupying the political field, in parties, social movements and collective associations, but their participation from insertion in the resistance movement and occupation of public space requires the use of tactics and mastery of tools. to face male competition. When she manages to enter the space of power, she must use tactics to conquer that space. It’s as if the simple fact of her getting there was still not enough”, analyzes the political scientist Deysi Cioccari.

The national picture and the presidential race are also repeated among candidates for state governments. To date, Brazil has only had eight female governors in its entire history. This year, the number may increase, as three of them lead the polls in their states: Marília Arraes (Solidarity), in Pernambuco; Fatima Bezerra (PT), in Rio Grande do Norte; and Teresa Surita (MDB), in Roraima. In terms of transgender and transvestite women, representation is drastically lower, since there are no trans candidates for executive positions. For the Legislature, they are just 67 candidates across Brazil this year. According to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (Antra), the 2022 elections have 76 candidacies from trans people, and the number of women represents 88% of the total. The number is higher than that recorded in 2018, when there were 52 candidates from this social group.

Although they remain a minority, a record number of female candidates was reached this year. It is due, to some extent, to the political emancipation of women, but mainly to the electoral legislation itself, which facilitates and increases the transfer of campaign resources to political parties that meet targets and quotas for the female presence among their candidates. “Between the two factors, what predominates, of course, is the new electoral legislation, which ends up doubling party funds for the parties that manage to leverage the largest number of women. Not just women, but blacks as well. And, doubly, the party wins with black women. Undoubtedly, the legislation ended up gaining this leverage from female candidates. In addition to, as in the background, greater pressure from society in relation to criticism of patriarchy, of sexist society. Women have been gaining more space in society, not so much in politics, but this law with the female quota contributes a lot in this process”, explains the political scientist Paulo Niccoli.

The risk in the new legislation is that parties will include women in their pool of candidates just to obtain more campaign resources, without there being any real intention to lead them to the election and possession of representative elective positions. “Women can only be placed on the slate, or even be elected, but without an ideological perspective. That is, it can create a mechanism for parties to just take advantage of this law, to obtain more funds. The consequence of this is that this not only deteriorates the participation of women in public life, but also creates a facade policy, in which they are placed solely with the intention of obtaining funds. In addition, to bring new criticisms to parties that only comply with the table, so to speak, so that, yes, the parties that leverage female participation and manage to give political engagement to these women and the electorate will stand out [delas]”, adds Niccoli.

For Deysi Cioccari, Brazil still has a lot to conquer in this matter. “The political participation of women is a challenge in the fight for gender equality, because the political space is a historical place where women are jettisoned, as if they did not deserve to be there. And, in Brazil, it is still very difficult for women to remain in elective and command positions, whether in the State, in the social movement, in a political party (…) It is a field of male power. So, for the occupation of this political space to be effectively configured as an expression of citizenship, much more is needed than simply for the woman to be elected. She has to arrive in the space of power and develop actions to break with male pre-fixed determinations with the constituted power practices. Need a way to act to overcome what is established. That’s why, often, women’s agendas are in the background, because, first, they have to effectively take the space of power. It’s not enough just to get there”, comments Cioccari.

When questioned about this context, political scientist Paulo Niccoli recalled former president Dilma Rousseff (PT): “Let us remember that Dilma, regardless of what she has done, suffered an impeachment process mainly because of the difficulty she had in articulating with men in parliament, including some ministers, with vice president Michel Temer. This goes on to show that, of course, for the simple fact that a woman is a woman, the path to be pursued by them is much more difficult”.

Conservatives and Progressives

Researcher Paulo Niccoli defends the importance of female representation regardless of their political position — left or right, progressive or conservative — even though they do not defend bills aimed at female emancipation and the achievement of rights by this part of the population. “It is always important to have women participating, regardless of the ideology they espouse. Female representation is essential. It cannot be expected that all women follow progressive guidelines, for example, in favor of abortion or even greater acquisition of labor rights in society, professional development, in order to reduce inequalities. We have to remember that a portion of women who were elected to Congress in the last election were evangelicals and conservatives. Like it or not, they represent another view of the world, far from progressive agendas, they end up defending strict, more orthodox views of religiosity, in which women are seen as submissive. But it is up to the women themselves to promote debates among themselves in order to convince the female electorate. This is part of the democratic process itself,” he comments.

On the scenario of opposition between progressives and conservatives, political scientist Deysi Cioccari cites research carried out in the United States that points to moments of growth in opposition to the opposite movement. “In times of great exclusion, women tend to take action and act. So, for example, with the election of Donald Trump, a researcher identified that the number of women who presented themselves in organizations, to support or to run in the United States, reached an unprecedented volume. Women may aspire to elect themselves much more for a perception of politics as a place that excludes them than as a place to which they belong. Moments of political crisis push women to act,” she argues.


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Brazil breaks record female candidacies women minority elections

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