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What it means to have a female president

For the first time in the history of Brazil we have elected a female president. What does that mean?

Although I believe in the importance of alternating powers, which in practice means that no party should stay in government for a long time I do think that the Worker's Party in Brazil has brought some change in the leadership of our country. We may dislike their politics, but they have broken some pretty strong paradigms that we have as a Brazilian culture, or as a general Latin American culture.

First, there was Lula, the first president that was elected with a poor background. Our political system is elitist. It's run by political families, with a lot of years in power and, of course, money. Lula was the first president that actually knew was it was like to be poor in Northeast Brazil, areas that have the same HDI as Ethiopia, while families with money have the means to send their kids to travel abroad, go to the best colleges, have the best cars and access to all the finer things in life, children of "sertão" starve. That's why many leave their home states in search for better future in bigger cities where they tend to get ostracized. We finally had a president that worked for a more equitable distribution of wealth in the Brazilian society.

Dilma history is not to be dismissed. She fought the Military dictatorship rule and suffered the consequences of it. Unlike very prominent artists and intellectuals who expelled from the country, she got the worse side of the deal and was tortured. She didn't got the worst side which would be murdered and never found. Although people may disagree with her or with her election as president, my view as her history shows that having the space and the the freedom to do so is a good thing and quite recent in Brazilian history.

Mainly, her win means we finally elected a female president. The first time in history. This is such a powerful message to little girls all over Brazil. It means when they aim to be wherever they want to be, there is an actual basis for that. The mere symbolic aspect of this win is already groundbreaking. She will not only be a leader for us, she will be one of the strongest leaderships of the world and that's a lot of responsibility.

What do we expect from her? Having a strong female leadership breaks grounds but is not enough. I hope she increases support to end gender based violence, I hope she enforce Lei Maria da Penha against Domestic Violence, I hope she gives women the right to choose or at least don't make them carry anencephalic babies to full term (call me crazy but I find that pointless and cruel) and I truly hope that she would be a good leader in general not only for her and her party, but for women candidates as a whole. Gender can not be a barrier and the last thing we need is a example against female leadership.

Being honest, she wasn't my first choice. I would much rather have Marina as my president these next four years. However, I respect the results of the election and wish Dilma can make a good term, not only for her, her party and our nation, but for female leaders in general.


Adelma A.Linatoc's picture

"At least one step forward"

Dear Natasha,

Let's positively hope that having a first time woman president in your country the issues of women can be a given a priority.I am supporting her because she's a woman and let's first give her a chance to do what her good capabilities of course along with the help of those with her cabinets' good purpose for the people and not for their own interests.She's not like a fairy godmother wherein everybody ask their wish in an instant got result.I don't know the history of your country unlike here in mine,because of those country who dominated before,I know our leaders are being dictated until now and even we've got two woman president also,we can't see/feel that we are given priority,the poor becomes poorer and the rich becomes richer.

NatashaLeite's picture


I really don't think all Brazil's problems would be solved by her, or even that she would fix those. Some problems re barried deeper than a four-year term. However, I expect her not to back away from women's issues, that are currently being discussed in Brazil. I think her election meant a lot and I would hate that that symbolism would go away because of a bad leadership. But like you said, it's always a two edge sword.

I appreciate your comments! And really thank you for reading!

All the best,

Natasha Leite

Wow, that's an amazing feat! You're right, it would really be hard for her to clear up the mess and the litter her precedents left in your country. There are lots of important issues that are stranded in the overwhelming dynamics of politics. But, really, having a woman president is such a big deal, practically because women issues, whether she puts it to the forefront of her political agenda or don't, will surface clearly and loudly because of the psychological effect of a woman reigning supreme. Her presidency will usher into a new political dimension where the whole political hierarchy will have to tackle gender-based issues brought about by women leaders and advocates - just because of the confidence that the President is one of them! We had two women Presidents in the Philippines ... and it was difficult because we have been subjected to so much male dominance and chauvinism. But then again, Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc ... these women never had an easy life, but look ... their lives have been and will always be emulated, simply because they made a difference!

Hurrah for the women of Brazil and the whole world!

Emie Zozobrado

NatashaLeite's picture

Thanks Emie

For your contagious optimism and for always putting things in a positive light! Your words have always great warmth and care and make me feel more at ease. The heart of the issue is: I truly don't know what our country will be like in the next four years. I hope she'd be a champion for women's rights. I hope Brazil continues to develop. But what I know is that her winning is a huge landmark in a culture in which machismo is berried deep. And overcoming that alone was a great winning!

All the best,

Natasha Leite

Emie Zozobrado's picture

You're right!

Sure, Natasha! Her winning is a landmark, not only for your country but for the whole world! We need more women leaders to bring humanity back to its beauty and harmony! We need to claim the power we were born with! Onward Brazilians ... onward women of the world!

Emie Zozobrado

Thais Moraes's picture

Natasha, I enjoyed reading


I enjoyed reading your text very much. I agree with most of the things you said including that Marina was my first choice and including the highly contentious issues such as the legalization of abortion of anencephalic babies.

I actually wrote a post in my blog that you might be interested in reading to compare with your views.



Thaís Moraes

NatashaLeite's picture

I would totally check that out

I posted in Brazil café as well to see if we could share some ideas but I didn't got much (any) feedback... It's always nice to hear what you own countrywomen are thinking so we can share opinions.

All the best,

Natasha Leite

The Knowledge Of The Truth Ministries - Overcomers's picture

Women are mothers

Great story, I love it!
I believe your president will bring in positive change. Our president's wife is a role model for women here therefore I guess your president will support the women. Fellow women need to back her up. If she gets to know about WP, she will think and rethink for better.


Because as you pointed out, they are few and far between.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

All the best,


andreavilela's picture

Baby steps

Thanks Natasha for your story. I read it in the Brazil Cafe :)

I agree with everything you have written, from Dilma not being my first choice, for various reasons--I would much rather have voted for Marina if I could have. Being a gringa from Canada and living in Brazil with my family for over two years now, the difference in terms of status of women between the two countries is large--and the fact that there were two women running for president is actually quite amazing. I am happy that Dilma won though, in the end, for the main reason that it will help to change the status of women in a country that ranks #85 in the world in terms od gender gap. There will be obvious challenges for her, as there would be for any candidate to bring Brazil up to a first-world status in many ways, regardless of being a woman. However I do hope that she can live up to at least some of what she said she was going to do--construct thousands of new creches, more schools, etc--things that real people here need every single day to be able to better their lives. She has such a great opportunity to make a difference for women and children in Brazil and I truly hope that she does that.


Andrea Vilela Araujo, MA

Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Therapist

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NatashaLeite's picture

Well, it´s great that you

Well, it´s great that you read at Brazil Café. My main criticism is not to the tool itself, it`s on us, Brazilians, that don´t make that most of it. And in that I do my mea culpa in saying that I have not participated as much as I should have. DIlma indeed has big shoes to fill, let´s hope that she helps close a little that gender gap!

Thanks for sharing!

All the best,


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