This time, the electronic voting machines will show the names of two candidates, as decided in the first round of the elections on October 2: Luiz Inácio Lula of the Workers’ Party is the former president of SilvaLh and the current president and candidate of the Liberals. Party, Jair Bolsonaro.
In the first round, Lula da Silva received 57.2 million votes (48.4% of the total), 1.8 million less than needed to reach the 50% victory threshold. Bolsonaro obtained just over 51 million votes (43.2% of the total), and in distant third place was the most prominent woman who ran for election: Simone Tebet of the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, with almost 5 million votes.
The polls predicted that Bolsonaro’s performance would be lower before the first round, but, within a margin of error, they were accurate in the percentage of votes that Lula da Silva could receive. Now, in this final phase of a highly polarized contest, some of the research institutes that conduct these polls are focusing on the choices women voters are making.
Women make up 51.1% of the Brazilian population and 53% of voters. In other words, there are 8 million more women voters than men.
In previous years, experts say this difference would have mattered less to presidential candidates. According to anthropologist Rosana Pinheiro-Machado, a professor at the School of Geography at University College Dublin in Ireland, the core of Bolsonaro’s supporters remains male and until recently, Brazilian women were not limited in politics and often voted like their husbands.
“That started to change from the Feminist Spring of 2015, when with the Internet and the dissemination of feminism on TV, radio, in schools, politics became a topic that was talked about among all women,” says Pinheiro-Machado, who studies both. the growth of the extreme right and feminism in Brazil’s marginalized communities.
As Pinheiro-Machado explains, the result of this growing political awareness among women is the growing opposition to Bolsonaro from women, especially poor women, after the rise of hunger and poverty during his presidency.
“The resistance against Bolsonaro is women in poor neighborhoods,” he told CNN.
The need to appeal to women voters — and Bolsonaro’s displeasure among certain groups of women — is reflected in both Bolsonaro’s and Lula da Silva’s campaigns, where prominent women are put in the spotlight in an attempt to appeal to voters.
Bolsonaro’s campaign has included first lady Michelle Bolsonaro and evangelical pastor Damares Alves, former Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, who was recently elected senator. Lula da Silva’s, on the other hand, has the support of Simone Tebet and has increased the visibility of his wife, the sociologist Rosângela da Silva (known as Janja), who has played an active role in coordinating the campaign agenda and engaging in dialogue with supporters.
Even among women, voters will be divided by class and race
While polling data can be flawed, there are other socio-economic and cultural trends that can help explain how women might vote on Sunday.
According to the Marielle Franco Institute, created to expand the legacy of the Rio de Janeiro councilwoman who was murdered in 2018, black women are the largest demographic group in the country, accounting for more than 25% of the population. This group is mostly made up of descendants of slaves (Brazil had the largest population of slaves of any country involved in the transatlantic slave trade, according to the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, which mapped data on the movement of slaves to slaves). world). This demographic is also very poor – and became even more so during the pandemic.
In this way, as the anthropologist Pinheiro-Machado has stated, although it is difficult to say with certainty, it is very likely that this group will support Lula da Silva. According to the survey by the Datafolha Institute, Lula da Silva has advanced with people with the lowest income in the family, 57% said they will vote for him, and 37% for Bolsonaro.
Pinheiro-Machado added that Bolsonaro also continues to give misogynistic speeches and attitudes, which further alienates these voters.
A low-income woman who was already an adult during Lula da Silva’s term would remember everything Bolsa Familia did for her: the economic autonomy she gained, how much the family’s health improved, the fact that her children stayed in school. , and that their children could go to college,” the anthropologist told CNN.
If black women and poor people are more likely to vote for Lula da Silva, Pinheiro-Machado believes, Bolsonaro’s campaign will gain support from two other demographic groups.
The first is made up of evangelicals who are as poor and many black women, but older, as a result of Bolsonaro’s moral agenda, particularly based on the fear of the decline of traditional gender roles.
The second group are upper-middle-class Brazilian women who, according to Pinheiro-Machado, want to pursue a more elite and conservative lifestyle based on neoliberal and religious values.
Investments in combating gender-based violence eroded
Although the outcome of the election will be important for all Brazilians (Latin America’s largest country is facing many crises, mainly economic and environmental), there is a lot at stake for women.
Despite this tragic statistic, Bolsonaro’s government has recently reduced the budget for combating violence against women by 90%. They also cut and replaced a government program aimed at promoting gender equality and combating gender-based violence, which focuses on “strengthening the family” and “protecting life from conception.”
There were also cuts in investment in the Brazilian Women’s House (Casa da Mulher Brasileira, a public organization that provides services for women) and the Women’s Call Center (which keeps a record of complaints, provides guidance to victims of violence and information about the law). and campaigns).
Liliane Machado, researcher in the field of feminist and gender studies and professor at the Faculty of Communication at the University of Brasilia, recalled that in 2020 Alves was called to the Senate to explain the restrictions and explained that the Brazilian Public Ministry is investigating. why were they made
“After all, violence against women has not decreased, on the contrary, an increase was recorded during the pandemic, and more and more political policies are needed to end this violence.” Machado told CNN.
The Brazilian philosopher Djamila Ribeiro, a famous researcher of black and decolonial feminism in Brazil, believes that the current government has not only set back the fight against gender violence, but has also implemented a fight against poverty and inequality, making cuts in social programs. economically empowered women.
“All these policies affect women, in the economy, health, housing, education, we don’t think about gender apart from these discussions,” she says.
The Inesc report supports Ribeiro’s opinion, showing that the policies for women – and the resources allocated to them – during the first three years of Bolsonaro’s government did not adequately address gender violence in the country.
Using data from the federal public budget released by the Brazilian Senate, Inesc also found that in 2022 Bolsonaro’s government still allocated the least amount of resources to fight violence against women.
The former president proposes the creation of the Ministry of Women, the reestablishment of a specific program to combat gender violence and the strengthening of the Femicide and Maria da Penha laws – which aim to protect women from domestic and family violence.
He also proposed the creation of a housing program aimed at women, especially single mothers, black and peripheral women, and the expansion of the country’s network of day care centers, senior centers and full-time schools.
However, Lula da Silva’s victory does not automatically translate into a win for women.
The deeply entrenched far-right population and the fact that Bolsonaro’s party and its allies won 14 of the 27 Senate seats contested in 2022 (giving the current president’s party a plurality in the legislature) are likely to make Lula possible. the da Silva administration in 2023 is more difficult by questioning the plans to invest in the environment; and fighting against women’s programs and other progressive agendas. It will also be limited by the state of the nation’s economy.
However, there is some optimism about the future of equity and gender policies in Brazil. The legislative elections, which took place in conjunction with the first round of presidential voting earlier this month, saw a record number of indigenous, black and trans women running for the National Congress.
“For the first time in the history of the country, we managed to elect people from groups that would have been unimaginable to elect a few years ago,” Ribeiro told CNN. “I look at the context from this perspective of hope… [there are] The people we know will be in power, fighting for us and doing the people’s bidding.”