Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Brazilian President Elect Dilma Rousseff Makes Gender Equality a Priority

Dilma Rousseff won Brazil's presidential race on Sunday night, making her the first woman in history to be elected to the position. Rousseff, 62, won with 56% of the country's votes and will take office on January 1. As a member of Brazil's Worker's Party, Rousseff's success was in part due to the support of her predecessor, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose popular social policies are expected to be continued by Rousseff's administration.

Rousseff is the eighth elected female president in Latin America and the Caribbean, and she will follow in the footsteps of many other prominent female leaders including Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, and Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile. Bachelet was recently appointed head of U.N. Women, the United Nations body responsible for promoting gender equality in U.N. policy.

Despite these important advances for women in leadership throughout Latin America, many obstacles remain. In Brazil in particular, the proportion of women to men in politics is still very low. Many hope that Rousseff's historic election will help bring women's issues to the fore of international politics.

Rousseff has widely stated that she believes gender equality is one of the foundations of democracy. After her win on Sunday night she said, "I would like for fathers and mothers to look into their daughters' eyes today and tell them: 'Yes, women can.' I would like to register my first post-election commitment: to honour Brazilian women so that this unprecedented fact becomes a natural event."

-Elizabeth Newton

SOURCE: The Guardian