The paper published in Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional (Vol. 63, n.1) is entitled “Exploring Brazilian Foreign Policy towards Women: Dimensions, Outcomes, Actors and Influences” and discusses the routes of the women-focused policies in Brazil since the first Worker’s Party government (2003) in the dimensions of diplomacy, cooperation, and security. Mónica gave an interview about her research to Rhaíssa Pagot, member of the Interdisciplinary Nucleus of Studies on Women and Gender of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
The Presidency of the Republic’s Secretariat of Policies for Women had a huge autonomy since its creation until 2015 when the government changed its status. What did Brazil lose in the last years concerning women’s rights in the domestic and international scenarios?
More than its change of status, which occurred still during President Rousseff’s term of office, what really affected SPM (now Secretaria Nacional de Políticas para as Mulheres, SNPM) was the replacement of the femocrats who were in charge since its inception by a conservative, non-feminist team soon after Rousseff’s demise. Even if the fight against violence against women continues to be an important issue of SNPM’s both domestic and external agendas, the defense of the traditional, essentialist gender roles made by the present head of the Ministry of Citizenship, Women and Human Rights (“girls in pink, boys in blue”), to which the Secretary is now adjoined, shows a complete lack of understanding of how gender hierarchies relate to feminicide. Thus, I don’t believe we’ll witness any significant advance in this regard in the coming years. Brazil has also abdicated the progressive leadership on women and gender issues at the international stage it had for about 25 years.
The Brazilian Agency for Cooperation played an important role in South-South development cooperation focused on women. At the same time, the agency did not begin any cooperation project by itself, and sometimes its cooperation partners (donors) unduly took the initiative in some important projects. Was this pattern of lack of proactivity mainly due to the absence of gender-mainstreaming guidelines for South-South cooperation and to the dispersion of projects among the Agency’s various sectors, like you mention, or was there some other reason?
Brazilian South-South development cooperation is demand-driven, meaning that a project cannot be devised before a Southern partner makes a specific demand. That’s the theory, but in practice, donors in trilateral projects have had, on some occasions, almost all the initiative. Surely, with gender-mainstreaming guidelines and some common overseeing of the projects addressed to women, ABC would be more in control than now is the case. In August 2018, it established a working group to discuss gender and race guidelines, but any outcome of its work has been made public so far. I don’t even know if it is still functioning. But what is really lacking (and this is also highlighted in the article) is a civil society constituency able to make demands and monitor development cooperation as a whole and, specifically, cooperation projects related to gender and women. The Brazilian model, which marginalizes NGOs, makes it very difficult the emergence of such a constituency.
The Brazilian efforts concerning the Nation Action Plan (NAP) on the Women, Peace and Security agenda were very limited even during the Worker’s Party governments (2003-2016). Has an opportunity been missed? Is there some initiative to launch the second version of the NAP?
The Brazilian NAP, which began to be discussed in October 2015 and was launched in March 2017, has no legal status (it has not been approved, even discussed, by the legislative), and it lacks funding. Also, although NAPs have the potential to deal with domestic security issues as well as with foreign policy, it was entirely conceived as a foreign policy instrument to be applied on peace missions. Those are its frailties, but I don’t think much more could be achieved without feminist domestic input. The Brazilian NAP was the product of external pressures and inter-agency cooperation led by MRE. Feminist organizations did not participate and SPM had a more than marginal role on it. In March 2019, the NAP was renewed for four more years. Its content was unchanged, but MRE defined for itself a set of voluntary goals and targets. It’s a small step forward, but it shows that there are critical actors at MRE willing to advance the WPS agenda even at difficult times.
Read the article
Salomón, Mónica. (2020). Exploring Brazilian foreign policy towards women: dimensions, outcomes, actors and influences. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 63(1), e001. Epub March 09, 2020.https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329202000101
About the authors
Mónica Salomón, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Departamento de Economia e Relações Internacionais, Florianópolis, Brazil
Rhaíssa Pagot, Interdisciplinary Nucleus of Studies on Women and Gender of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
How to cite this interview