What Does Feminism Mean to You? Are You a Feminist?Brazilian Activists Defining Feminism, Gender Inequality, and Women's Empowerment

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Solange SIMOES, Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, Eastern Michigan University, USA
We look into the various ways activists from a wide range of civil society organizations and state agencies define feminism, see themselves as feminists or not, and perceive gender inequality. The paper draws on two surveys of representative samples of delegates – representing trade unions, political parties; environmental, black and indigenous NGOs and LGBT and women’s and feminist organizations – to the III and IV National Conferences for Public Policies for Women organized in Brazil by the Special Secretariat for Policies for Women in 2011 and 2016. The conferences brought together delegates from all over the country - large metropolitan areas, small towns, farms and remote areas in the Amazon rain forest - representing civil society as well as the public sector, and elected through local and regional meetings that drew the participation of over 200.000 activists to draft the National Plans of Policies for Women. We analyze the answers to the surveys’ open-ended as well as closed questions that probed into the ways the respondents defined feminism, their first contact with feminist ideas, and the space they saw for feminism within a wide range of social movements and civil society organizations as well as within the public sector. In addition to the descriptive analysis of the definitions of feminism by activists in a wide range of organizations, the paper also explores possible correlations and causality between those definitions of feminism and factors such as the activists’ gender identity, sexual orientation, education, religion, age, race, marital status, number of children, work situation, class, political orientation, party affiliation, civic engagement and political activism in a very wide spectrum of political parties, trade unions, NGOs and social movements (black, indigenous, environmental, LGBT, religious, student). In sum, the paper explores links between activists’ views of feminism and emerging intersectional locations for feminist praxis.