Brazil, Racial Democracy? The Plight of Afro-descendent Women in Political Spaces

Sandra Silv, Silvia Casa, David CARTER

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The social role of women in Brazil is subject to significant change in both capacity and scope. While women constitute the majority of the population in Brazil, they account for 40 per cent of the workforce, and thus, they remain comparatively invisible in public life. This is evident in political representation, as although Brazilian law stipulates that political parties must reserve at least 30 per cent of their nominations for women for legislative elections, this does not occur in reality. Furthermore, despite Afro-descendant Brazilians constituting the majority of the population, in the Chamber of Deputies, for instance, there are only 9 per cent Afro-descendant representatives. Therefore, this study focuses on understanding issues of political representation of Afro-descendant women in political spaces in Brazil – a country where politics is still predominantly white and male. Thus, despite a rhetorical position of an ‘open country’ with opportunities for all, the whiteness and masculinity of Brazilian politics illustrates the degree of mythology concerning the rhetoric of Brazil’s racial democracy. We employ a qualitative research approach in this study and we employ an oral-history-informed post-structuralist approach. We focus our empirical analysis on in-depth interviews with an Afro-descendant female accounting professor who was elected to an important political position. We argue that discussions about democracy in Brazil go beyond formal aspects of civil rights, as our study highlights the necessity of reshaping political processes to engender greater female and Afro-descendent participation, to engender both groups to seek political careers as well as to encourage political parties to include more female and more Afro-descendent candidates. The ultimate goal of such institutional reform is a reformation of ‘racial democracy’ as Afro-descendent women interact with, stand and succeed in Brazilian elections.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Public Interest Accounting: Accounting in Conflict: Globalization, Gender, Race and Class
EditorsCheryl Lehman
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9781785609763
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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