SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – In an abandoned building in the centre of Brazil’s financial centre of Sao Paulo, Marli Aguiar and a group of black women have come together to talk about one thing: what to do about Brazil’s new interim government.
After only weeks in power, it has become clear that this new administration will be a “disaster” for women’s rights, they say – particularly for black, working-class women.
“This is a patriarchal and machista society,” says Aguiar, while the women nod in agreement. “We’ve fought against this for years and achieved successes, but now they’re taking all that away.”
Aguiar is referring to the interim government of Michel Temer, which took power in May after the senate voted to suspend, and ultimately impeach, President Dilma Rousseff.
In his short time in office, Temer has already made several changes to public spending as part of his plans to overhaul the economy and balance the budget. These include harsh spending caps on social programmes, reducing labour rights, and closing government ministries – all of which have contributed to major gains in women’s rights over the years.
“The situation right now is critical,” says Aguiar, who has been regularly attending the anti-Temer protests and sit-ins that have been taking place almost every day in Sao Paulo.
Leading the fight
Women have been leading the fight to see Temer removed from office, calling his policies a dangerous step backwards. One of the more popular slogans seen at demonstrations has been “Ser Mujer Sin Temer”, or “Being a Woman Without Temer”, which is a play on words as “temer” also means “fear” in Portuguese.
Many women, including Aguiar, have also refused to acknowledge Temer’s leadership, referring to his administration as a “coup government”, as it forcibly removed the democratically elected Rousseff and the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) from office.
Women have been leading the fight to see Temer removed from office [Kimberley Brown/Al Jazeera]