Research investigates how black women perceive International Women’s Day; Black Women’s Hub organization raises important issues

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Note from BW of Brazil: On March 8th, on an international level, we reflect on the situation of women worldwide. And in the nation’s capital city of Brasília DF, a black women’s organization known as HUB das Pretas (Black Women’s HUB) got together to consider the specific struggle of black Brazilian women and their survey touched upon some of the very same issues addressed on this blog regularly. The survey was actually taken last year, but the issues raised and results remain valid for any year as long as black women continue to remain at the base of the social hierarchy in Brazilian society. As you read the article below, keep in mind, these issues should be contemplated every day of the year and not just again 364 days from now.

Dia Internacinal da Mulher
International Women’s Day – March 8

Research investigates how black women perceive International Women’s Day and the fight for rights

About 60 women were interviewed in Brasília during the week of March 8.

Research investigates how black women perceive International Women’s Day and the fight for rights

This year’s International Women’s Day (March 8) was historic. In Brazil and throughout the world there was intense participation of representatives of popular organizations, feminists and activists in the activities and protests, exposing prejudices, intolerance and violence and reaffirming the rights of women.

One of the main slogans to take to the streets was: “Se nossas vidas não importam, produzam sem nós!” (If our lives do not matter, produce without us!). The proposal was a general strike – every woman would cross her arms and leave her job to join her in the protests, demanding less violence, more rights and respect.

The question of the general strike has, however, raised legitimate questions about its real viability for some women, especially among the most vulnerable, such as the young, the black and the poor. Can they decide not to go to work and not be sanctioned, like other white, middle-class women with more flexible working hours?

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Hub das Pretas DF

This issue was questioned by the Hub das Pretas DF (Black Women’s Hub of the Federal District) in a survey conducted between March 6 and 8 with about 60 women, aged between 20 and 40 years. The Hub das Pretas DF is linked to the project Jovens Mulheres Negras Fortalecidas na Luta Contra o Racismo e o Sexismo (Young Black Women Strengthened in the Fight against Racism and Sexism), an initiative of Inesc, Oxfam, Crioula, Fase Rio, Fase Recife, Ação Educativa (Educational Action), Pólis and Ibase. The principal objective rightfully address and combat violations of black women’s rights.

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The questions, made at the Rodoviária do Plano Piloto in downtown Brasília, passed between the racial identities of the interviewees, the knowledge about the general strike planned for International Women’s Day and what rights are systematically violated. The research was not statistically representative, but managed to capture the perception of these women, as well as being a political intervention itself, insofar as it allowed the dialogue on March 8 and the women’s strike from the perspective of black women.

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The women of HUB das Pretas DF

The research results reveal that despite the discourse that we live in a ‘racial democracy’, black women still feel strongly about racism in their daily lives. They know and feel that they are treated differently because of the color of their skin, and precisely because of the recognition that they are black is painful – they have difficulty seeing themselves as black women (77.8% answered preta (black), 18.5% answered parda (brown/mixed), 1.9% answered branca (white).

race movement
Race/color – white, black, brown, Asian, indigenous, no response/ What do you understand by women’s movement? Feminism, militancy, waste of time, women wanting to show, struggle for equality, empowerment, war for respect, struggle for respect

“Racism in Brazil is explained by some people as a subtle phenomenon. But in reality, it is quite evident. The point is that we need to be politically equipped to identify the problems. And that goes through the process of racial identification,” explains Mylena Tiodósio, a journalism student at the Universidade Católica de Brasília (Catholic University of Brasilia) and a member of the Hub das Pretas DF.

In addition to the false subtlety of racism in our day-to-day lives, the very word ‘racism’ is still seen by the vast majority of people as ‘too heavy’ a word to be asserted.

Captura de Tela 2017-04-25 as 17.31.03
Do you think the black woman suffers more violence than the white woman? Yes, no, don’t know how to respond, no response. 87% yes, 9.3% no

“The impression that struck me most was the difficulty that many black women have of not understanding the word racism and believe that it does not really exist and does not affect them,” says Kinah Monifa, a participant in the collective Mulheres Hamsá (Hamsa Women) and also a member of the Hub das Pretas DF .

The research also points out that a large part of the interviewed women have a double shift day and are single mothers, 66.7% single to 18.5% married, a relevant fact, when it comes to women historically rejected for marriage because of skin color. They are, therefore, part of a rather perverse social structure, in which there is a great accumulation of functions and activities, and little or no source of income (around a minimum salary), even being the only provider of the family. Even when the income is higher, it is not enough to meet her needs and her family.

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Most of the interviewees, 96.3%, said they knew the Maria da Penha Law, but opinions were divided regarding the success of this legislation. We know that many are the factors that interfere in this result, because they are rules, agreements and social actions that are in the ‘between the lines’ of the society.

A large part also claimed to know that March 8 was International Women’s Day, but they were unaware of its origins, implications and ideological tensions, as well as the proposed general strike for the date. They also said that they had heard about feminism, and that 87% realized in their daily lives that black women suffer more violence than white women.

“I identified in the answers that the deep critical reflection on the issues of the feminist movement did not come at them with so much force. This shows that the feminist movement has failed to pay attention to these women and to consider their reality in their reflections. Another thing: black women have unequal access to information. They are women who often earn little more than a minimum wage and have work as a deterrent to demonstrate politically, to claim their rights, as many did on the day of the women’s strike, on March 8th,” explains Mylena Tiodósio.

The result of the Hub das Pretas research raises some important issues, such as access to information made available to black women, the awareness and social engagement they have and may have. It also requires reflection on the structural issues that racism includes, including within feminist organizations, against black women. And racial and economic issues are, in this context, important dividers.

Research investigates how black women perceive International Women’s Day and the fight for rights

The young women who applied the questionnaire for the research concluded that the organization of black women is indispensable for the search for a fuller citizenship, with respect, in the fight against racism and in the struggle for rights and the maintenance of them.

Another important reflection is on the social and racial place of the speaker, and how this interferes in the point, on the workers who are not fully involved in the women’s movement.

Thinking about information as a human right, and how the Hub das Pretas DF can contribute to this process, Mylena considers that “the purpose of the Hub das Pretas project is to rethink this communication, considering the internet as a space for strengthening the organization of black women and make another communication that values the knowledge, experiences and rights of black women.”

Source: INESC

About Marques Travae 2875 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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