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Black Women Alliance: Women on the front line against violence

por | ago 21, 2023 | Artigos, Notícias | 0 Comentários

ELAS+ Giving for change

In South America, Brazil is a country with unique and special historical and geographical characteristics. Colonized by the Portuguese between the 16th and 19th centuries, Brazil is the only country whose official language is Portuguese, and its territorial extension is colossal - 8 million square kilometers, slightly smaller than the European continent with its almost fifty countries. This continental geographical feature, home to a rich and diverse combination of biomes, as well as an estimated population of 203 million people (Census 2022), could transform this territory into a storehouse of immeasurable social and economic prosperity, but this is not a reality for its inhabitants and, in particular, for Brazilian women. 

According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the official body responsible for collecting and disseminating national social and economic indicators, in 2021 Brazil registered an impressive 62.5 million people living below the poverty line, 17.9 million of whom were extremely poor. In percentage terms, this means that in 2021, 29.4% of Brazilians were socially poor and 8.4% were extremely poor.

Going further into the details of those most affected by this profile of social and economic vulnerability, we find something equally alarming: around 62.8% of households headed by women without a spouse and with children under 14 were below the poverty line; in addition, the proportion of self-declared black people living below the poverty line was 37.9%, or almost double the proportion of self-declared white people, whose percentage was 18.6%. This greater vulnerability of the black population would already be a large-scale problem to tackle, but it becomes even more challenging given the fact that self-declared black people make up 56% of the country's total population.

Organizations from the black movement and black women argue that the social and economic vulnerability of the black population is the result of evident and measurable practices of racial discrimination and racism historically present in Brazilian society. Going further, these organizations argue that Brazilian social inequality has deep roots in the history of slavery, less access to social inclusion policies and the persistent denial of racism as an important variable in the violation of rights and citizenship of this majority segment of the population. 

In fact, the central point of this debate is the need to recognize racism as an important dimension of the indicators that confine the black population among those with the highest unemployment rates and the greatest participation in the informal job market; the lowest salaries; the highest school dropout rates; the lowest access to public health services; the greatest vulnerability in terms of housing conditions and access to basic sanitation services. It is no coincidence that the favelas in Brazil are mostly inhabited by black people and that these areas are also the prime target of disastrously coordinated police actions by the public security system throughout the country.

In this context of fragility and violations, black women, their families and communities are the most penalized. There is no doubt that racial violence is an expressive mark of racism in Brazilian society and is manifested in a very evident and proven way in the countless cases of racial discrimination in school environments; in work environments and relationships - with aggravating moral and sexual harassment. It is notable in the precarious access to public health services, with obstetric violence being an undeniable example of the scope of racial violence on the right to health and reproductive rights of women black women; in the indicators of domestic and family violence among women black women; in the galloping indicators of femicide black women - in 2020, 67% of reported femicides in the country had black women as victims.

It is also important to highlight the unquestionable homicide rates of black trans women and transvestites across the country; the historically increasing incarceration rates of the black population - in 2022, of the 820,689 people in prison, 67.4% were black; the impressive homicide rates among the young black population and black men. When we look at the historical series, the figures are alarming - between 2009 and 2019, 439,740 black people were murdered in the country - almost half a million people!

It is therefore no coincidence that ELAS+ Giving for changethe first fund to support women in Brazil, systematically supports groups, collectives and networks of black women throughout the country. This decision is the result of a structural analysis of women's right to a life free from violence. Going further, ELAS+ 's decision is based on the belief that philanthropy can act effectively in the fight against racism and racial discrimination in Brazil, by effectively supporting black women organizations and the practices that these organizations undertake in the protection and social promotion of their families and communities, including advocacy aimed at improving public policies to reduce social inequalities and fight racism.

In Brazil, ELAS+ was the first organization to support initiatives led by women to define black women organizations as a priority beneficiary group. In 2022, ELAS+ supported 214 groups led by women, which corresponds to 79% of the total of grantees. That same year, it launched a specific program for this segment of the population - Black Women Alliance Pelo Fim da Violência. A program initiated by ELAS+, in partnership with the Ford Foundation.

A national call for proposals selected 16 organizations and networks with experience in activism, to work against institutional racism and the genocide of the black population; in anti-racial violence communication and in the fight against violence against black women and black trans people.

In addition, ELAS+ 's decision is based on the belief that philanthropy can effectively tackle racism and racial discrimination by providing effective support to black women organizations and the practices they undertake to protect and uplift their families and communities in order to reduce social inequalities and combat this scenario. With this program, ELAS+ aims to engage the philanthropic ecosystem to support and strengthen the leadership of black women in transforming institutional racism in Brazil, for current and future generations.

Wania Sant'Anna - historian, researcher of gender relations and ethnic/racial relations, member of the Assembly of ELAS+ Giving for change and member of the Black Coalition for Rights, representing the Ilê Omolu e Oxum terreiro community (RJ)