Women’s Day in Brazil

womens day in brazil: as mulheres da rio & learn são incríveis

Hey everyone! Feeling alright? Good! Because today is a very special date, you know? It’s International Women’s Day in Brazil! But what does that mean to Brazilians? What does mulher poderosa mean? And who are some of the most iconic women in Brazil? In today’s Dica do Dia, we’re going to talk about all of that. Let’s check it out!

The History Behind March 8th

On March 25, 1911 a fire broke out at a textile factory in New York City. Approximately 120 women (and another 20 men) working at Triangle Shirtwaist Company were killed.  And what’s so shocking about this incident? Well, at the time of the fire, the doors to the factory were locked. That was a common practice of the owners in the hopes of avoiding riots. This news naturally led to a riot of its own. Not to mention the substandard safety conditions where the factory women lived.

Despite this catastrophe, the motivation that actually led women of various countries to protest for better rights happened prior. In May 1908 in the United States, about 1500 women staged a demonstration with the goal of fighting for economic and political equality in the country. Women continued to fight throughout the following years, through strikes, protests, and rallies. Eventually, they gained the right to vote, better quality of life, and better wages. Finally in 1977, thanks to the United Nations, March 8th became an internationally celebrated holiday — Women’s Day.

The Women’s Rights Movement in Brazil

Naturally, Brazilian women have gone through hurdles of their own as well. And for many women still, Women’s Day in Brazil is about fighting for their rights. Be it with strikes and protests, or by remembering some of what we have accomplished and have yet to accomplish in terms of equality. So now let’s take a look at some iconic moments in our history.

Women’s Suffrage

Getúlio Vargas (dictator of Brazil from 1930-1945, president from 1951-1954) is often credited as the one who gave women the right to vote in Brazil — the first country in Latin America to do so. Unfortunately, things aren’t so crystal clear. Back then women could only vote if they had the permission of their fathers or spouses. Or at the very least they had to be financially independent — a bit of a hard thing to do in the 1930s. It was only with the dictatorship in 1965 that women and men’s voting rights became equal in the country. But there wouldn’t be any democratic elections for another 20 years. So, women had to wait until 1985 in order to finally vote freely as equals.

The Maria da Penha Law

Created in 2006, this law aimed to fight domestic violence against women. Its name honors Maria da Penha Fernandes. Her ex-husband attempted to murder her several times for 23 years. Despite all of that, Maria did not give up the fight. She continued to seek justice for those who abuse women. Before this law, domestic violence was not often taken seriously by authorities. This resulted in many perpetrators walking free. Nowadays, however, women receive protection in such situations, and they’ve also earned the right to recover assets in case of marital disputes. Currently, the punishment for breaking the Maria da Penha Law is imprisonment for 3 months and up to 3 years.

The Mulheres Poderosas of Brazil

Even with everything that women have accomplished over the years, Brazil is far from the perfect place to be a woman. Yet over the years, Brazilians have come to respect and recognize a mulher poderosa when they see one. You may be asking: “What does that mean?” I’ll tell you: a mulher poderosa is, a strong-willed woman, someone unbending and determined. And since it’s Women’s Day in Brazil, why don’t we celebrate some of the mulheres poderosas of this country?

Princess Isabel: Liberator of Slaves

princess isabel, example of notorious woman.
Photo by Wikicommons

Naturally it takes more than one woman to free millions. But Princess Isabel, the last princess of Brazil, is forever remembered as the one who signed the Lei Áurea. That document declared the end of slavery in 1888 (very late, yes!). You can find it along with the pen Isabel used to sign it in the Imperial Museum — one of the many great places to visit in Rio. And if it hadn’t been for the military coup that instated the Republic in 1889, she would have become the first female ruler of Brazil.

Dandara dos Palmares: Zumbi’s Right-Hand

dandara dos palmares, example of important woman in brazil's history
Photo by Wikicommons

Long before Princess Isabel could free anyone, former slaves were the ones freeing themselves. And that’s exactly the kind of woman who Dandara dos Palmares was. She was the wife of Zumbi dos Palmares, the most famous black person in Brazilian history. Together they helped slaves escape their masters to live in isolated communities called quilombos (which exist to this day!). Life in these communities wasn’t all that perfect. But Dandara and Zumbi certainly shook up the status quo of the time. To add to her awesomeness, Dandara even knew how to defend herself – she was skilled in capoeira and knew how to use weapons.

Dilma Rousseff: First Female President of Brazil

dilma rousseff, ex president of brazil, first woman to become president in the country.
Photo by Robert Stuckert Filho/Agência Brasil

36th President of Brazil (2011-2016) — and the first female president — Dilma Rousseff is fit to join the ranks of mulher poderosa. Even though she was impeached and quite unpopular by the time she left office, her life story is that of a true mulher poderosa. She was an activist and fervently fought against the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964-1985). For that reason, she faced imprisonment and torture. Most Brazilians might not comment positively on her time as President. But they will certainly be able to recognize that Dilma did a lot for our country.

Fernanda Montenegro: Most Iconic Brazilian Actress Ever

fernanda montenegro, brazilian actress, example of important woman during women's day in brazil
Photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Fernanda Montenegro is well-known to anyone who’s ever watched Brazilian novelas and classics such as Central do Brasil. She’s been for decades the face and voice of the entertainment industry here. And so far, she’s the only Brazilian person to ever be nominated for an Oscar. Throughout her career she’s fought to gain more opportunities for women and other minorities in the entertainment industry. If anything, she’s a legend and a proud representative of her city – Rio de Janeiro!

Vocabulary for Women’s Day in Brazil

Dia das Mulheres no BrasilWomen’s Day in Brazil

Who are some mulheres poderosas in your country? Happy International Women’s Day to all of you!
Kisses from the Rio & Learn team.

               Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Holidays in Brazil
Republic Day in Brazil
Independence Day in Brazil
First Brazilian Woman at the Olympics

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search for Portuguese Dicas

Tell us which Portuguese lesson you would like to learn


Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Suscribe to A Dica do Dia.

Get free Portuguese lessons. Subscribe to A Dica do Dia and get short, daily lessons in Portuguese completely free.

Based on 282 reviews
This is the best way to learn portuguese in Rio! Great atmosphere, vers good teachers and very efficient active learning method through one big bonus of this school: Rio&live !! Definitely recommand!!
Kanso M
Kanso M
Llevo solo unas semanas estudiando en línea con Rio & Learn y puedo decir que mi portugués ya ha mejorado notablemente! Espero poder visitar la escuela pronto para realizar una inmersión completa y conocer a todos los profesores que son geniales. Muchas gracias Rio & Learn!
Pablo Gonzalez
Pablo Gonzalez
I have been taking online group classes here for about a month. The entire class is in Portuguese so you learn super fast. The class sizes are small and after each class the teacher evaluates you, so you learn at your own pace. All the teachers I've had are super enthusiastic and encouraging. You're also put in a WhatsApp group to practice and there are extra online activities which are super fun. I both laugh and learn a ton in my classes. I highly recommend this school and I hope someday in the future I can visit in person!
Sam Terlizzi
Sam Terlizzi
I had a lovely time with the teachers and my fellow students during the classes and the activities the school provided. They push you to speak as much Portuguese as possible during and outside the classes. This made it possible for me to start smal conversation after one week!!! Thank you very much for all the fun and teachable moments! “Eu gosto Rio and Learn!”
Mathieu Vandemaele (MathieuV)
Mathieu Vandemaele (MathieuV)
Rio & Learn is a one stop shop for learning Portuguese while enjoying the amazing Carioca lifestyle. The teachers and the staffs are very accommodating and they always encourage you to speak and immerse in the language. The immersion classes would take you on amazing journeys to local historic spots of the city while keeping you extra fit. Highly recommend!!!
Khoa Pham
Khoa Pham
excelente experiencia, quero visitar novamente, os professores foram maravilhosos - Diogo e Ana Paula! A escola é bem organizada, bem localizada e funciona bem. Obrigada a todos!
Wonderful experience of Portuguese learning! The curriculum combines class room lectures and RioLIVE! field trips. My favorite activities are samba and cooking lesson. Staff and teachers are very friendly and helpful.The school is perfectly suited few steps away from beautiful Copacabana beach. Diogo is amazing and fun, he makes a beginner like feels really comfortable and able to learn!
Hong Lynn Zeng
Hong Lynn Zeng
E ai pessoal! Rio & Learn fue una experiencia maravillosa. En la escuela tuve clases muy interesante que mezclan temas gramaticales con conversación de una forma muy bien planificada. Adicionalmente, las actividades programadas por la escuela en la tarde y los fines de semana son muy divertidas y son una extensión de las clases por lo que se puede continuar practicando portugués en un escenario más pragmático. Complementario a esto, los profesores son muy buenos y tienen mucho ánimo y disposición para enseñar, preocupándose de que el estudiante aprenda ya sea en un entorno individual o grupal; debido a que el profesor que dicta la clase cambia con cierta frecuencia uno tiene la posibilidad de desarrollar más la habilidad de escucha con los diferentes acentos y dinámicas de cada uno. Finalmente, como solo traveler es el lugar ideal para hacer amigos en clase y pasar un buen rato con las actividades de RioLive mientras conoces Rio y practicas el idioma objetivo así que es una excelente combinación. Recomiendo completamente, amé mi experiencia, cree amistades para toda la vida y mejoré mi portugués tal como quería, superó mis expectativas con creces.
karolina roa correa
karolina roa correa
la escuela es muy útil para aprender portugués, las clases son interactivas y divertidas. Tiene excelentes profesores que ayudan al aprendizaje de manera efectiva.
Daniela Camacho
Daniela Camacho
I highly recommend Rio and Learn, especially as a solo-traveler. You will make so many friends from the classes and have a lot of support from teachers as well. The group classes are quite great and allow you to maximize your time in the city. I love how you spend the first half of the day focusing on grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary and then afterwards you actually apply it while visiting some of the coolest places in Rio.
michael alcorn
michael alcorn