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Women’s rights in a historical path of struggles and conquests

Feminism did not emerge yesterday. Since past centuries, battles and conquests have permeated the female universe in favor of gender equality. However, many women are still unaware of their rights and, therefore, do not know who to turn to in certain situations. O women’s tips invited lawyer Junia Cavalcante Silva Santos and sociologist Bárbara Cristina de Almeida to talk about this subject so relevant to today’s society. Check out!

What are women’s rights

Currently, women’s rights are recurring guidelines in the major media, however, there are still many barriers both for the dissemination of information and for the implementation of legislation. As lawyer Junia Cavalcante, a postgraduate in women’s rights, points out, “they are a species within the Human Rights genre and encompass a series of laws, contemplating the social and political inequalities” that affect the female universe. Therefore:

“Women’s rights exist to defend them from the discrimination, oppression and violence that exist in a patriarchal and sexist society.” – Junia Cavalcante

In short, rights are a way of recognizing women’s social vulnerability. In view of this, sociologist Bárbara Cristina, a postgraduate in Human Sciences, points out that they “are a necessity, a historical reparation and a constant search for this struggle that we have daily”.

Why are women’s rights important?

Regarding the importance of rights, both professionals emphasize the protection factor they guarantee to women in situations of vulnerability. According to the lawyer, gender stereotypes, which propagate ideals of female behavior and roles in society and in the family, make it difficult for women to access justice, often with attacks on reputation and discrediting complaints.

For Junia Cavalgante, “having their rights recognized means that, finally, both the Legislative and the Judiciary are considering historically structured gender inequality”. Corroborating this statement, Bárbara Cristina emphasizes that rights are a matter of female survival:

“You can’t say that women’s rights are not important. On the contrary, they are the minimum for us to have a dignified life in the world”. – Barbara Cristina

According to the sociologist, in view of the problems of structural machismo, the laws work as a support for Brazilian women, an obstacle that aims to curb aggression and gender violence. Therefore, knowing your rights is a form of self-protection.

What are women’s rights?

When talking about women’s rights, some are always remembered, but others, despite being important, are forgotten. Therefore, below, check out the main achievements of feminist struggles:

right to vote

Through women’s suffrage, in 1932, Brazilian women won the right to vote, explains Bárbara Cristina. Thus, in addition to going to the polls, they guaranteed active participation in elections, that is, the right to run for political office. This was a milestone not only for the feminist movement, but also for democracy.

right to divorce

Until 1977, divorce in a notary’s office was something very complicated and with many requirements. The claim for this right was made by the feminist movement and caused great commotion among the conservative public. The sociologist points out that although it does not seem like a great milestone, this right “allows women to divorce, something that makes a lot of difference, because, before that, they were forced to spend their lives with terrible partners”.

Right to gender equality before legislation

It may be hard to believe, but women in Brazil were only recognized worthy of rights in the Federal Constitution of 1988. From then on, considering social, labor and family rights and duties, the character of gender equality began to be validated. “Before that we were not equal to men before the law”, points out the sociologist.

Right to protection

This right is only possible thanks to the Maria da Penha Law, enacted in 2006. According to the lawyer, this law “shed light on the different types of violence that affect women, including: psychological and physical violence, as well as sexual, moral and patrimonial violence. Finally, the right to protection aims to curb violence against women, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Right to maternity leave

Article 392 of the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), in accordance with Law No. 10,421, grants women, since 2002, maternity leave of 120 days, without prejudice to salary, both in cases of biological children and in of adopted children.

Right to alimony

According to the lawyer, an important right for women, “recognized in the courts, is alimony for an ex-wife, permitted by the Civil Code, in cases of impossibility of returning to work, either due to advanced age or for health reasons. ”. According to the professional, during marriage, “many women dedicate themselves exclusively to the care of the home and family, either by choice or demand of the then husband, abandoning their own career while the husband achieves a higher professional qualification, resulting in an economic imbalance in separation”.

Right to alimony during pregnancy

According to the law, pregnant women, unable to support themselves financially, have the right to “ask for pregnancy food for the baby’s father”, points out the lawyer. In addition, the pension must be sufficient to “cover costs related to the period of pregnancy and childbirth, such as medical and psychological assistance, examinations, hospitalization, etc”.

Right to abortion in certain situations

Abortion is an issue that needs to be reviewed by the law (the experts detail the matter later). However, it can be legally performed in cases of pregnancy caused by rape or if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk, as described in article 128 of Law No. 2,848.

Right to free health services

Thanks to Law No. 8,080, women’s health is covered by the Unified Health System (SUS) with free services, such as preventive and diagnostic services, monitoring of pregnancy, support in cases of rape, among others.

Right to withdraw husband’s surname

According to the lawyer, this was an existing right, but a recent change in the Public Records Act “has lessened the bureaucratization for a woman to remove her husband’s surname”. Thus, Law No. 14,382 of 2022 is yet another “victory of the feminist movement and recognition of the gender inequality that is present in our patriarchal society”.

A few years ago, simple things were still not rights. In fact, it is necessary to awaken the gaze to these factors and see the importance of each one in current experiences. In this way, it will be possible to boost the social deconstructions of gender, defend the rights conquered and continue fighting for changes.

Milestones and achievements of women in Brazil

In addition to the rights discussed in the previous topic, many achievements have marked Brazilian history, for example, the extinction of sexist laws and the mobilization of women in the struggle for gender equality. Below, check out a timeline with some milestones:

Women earn the right to enter college (1879)

IN 1827, women won the right to school education, however this battle was just beginning. Many claims were made, so after 52 years, in 1879, Brazilian universities finally opened their doors to the female public.

Creation of the first female political party (1910)

The female vote was won in 1932, but the struggle for women’s entry into politics began long before that. In 1910, for example, the Women’s Republican Party, the first party created by women, was founded with the aim of claiming the political rights of women.

First female parliamentarian elected (1934)

Just over a year after the right to vote for women, a woman was elected as a federal deputy. In 1934, the physician from São Paulo, Carlota Pereira de Queirós, at the age of 41, was responsible for making the female voice heard in the National Congress.

Mobilization of gender and race by black women (1940)

In the Quilombo newspaper, in the 1940s, black women actively addressed social issues of gender and race in the country. They were inspired by a woman recognized as a Brazilian feminist leader: Maria de Lourdes Vale Nascimento. Scholars point to this moment as the beginning of race and gender activism.

Creation of the Married Woman Statute (1960)

Although it no longer exists, due to the conquest of other rights, the Statute of the Married Woman made a big difference in the lives of women who lived in the 60’s. inheritance and custody of children in cases of separation.

Right to carry a credit card (1974)

Single or divorced women could not use credit cards until 1974. In that year, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed and dispensed with the need for a man to sign the agreement with creditors.

Right to Play Football (1979)

Well, according to sociologist Bárbara Cristina, until 1979, women were prohibited from playing football. The sport was considered masculine. “It’s unimaginable! It seems silly, but it is something that shows all this social difference”, comments the professional.

Creation of the first women’s police station (1985)

Created with the aim of combating violence and supporting and welcoming victims, the first women’s police station was founded in 1985 in the state of São Paulo. Since then, many other units have been created across the country.

Not being a virgin is no longer a reason to annul the marriage (2002)

Until 2002, a marriage could be annulled for the ‘lack’ of a woman’s virginity. The article allowing the action was removed from the Brazilian Civil Code 20 years ago. Before being removed, the lawyer clarifies that “the husband could ‘return’ the woman if he found out that she was no longer a virgin”.

Brazil approves the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2002)

Legitimized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, CEDAW is a document prepared by the UN in favor of women’s rights. According to the lawyer, this document “recognized gender discrimination and signed a commitment with several countries to fight it”. Despite having been created in the late 1970s, the Brazilian National Congress acceded to the convention only in 2002.

First female president elected in Brazil (2011)

On January 1, 2011, a woman received the presidential sash to democratically assume responsibility for the post. Dilma Rousseff, who had already held several political positions, was the 36th President of Brazil and marked the country’s history.

Creation of the Carolina Dieckmann Law (2012)

Law No. 12,737,…

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