Modern ideas, traditional behaviors, and the persistence of gender inequality in Brazil

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Women's and Gender Studies


Adding to the established conceptualization of the first three waves of the Brazilian women's and feminist movements, our focus is the ongoing "fourth wave," defined by a process of "gendered democratic institutionalization" as well as the revitalization of a classic feminist rights agenda, due to the influence of transnational feminism and the globalization of local women's agendas. We argue that all the achievements of Brazilian women since the mid-1980s—in education, work, and political participation—have not resulted in a significant reduction in gender inequality. Underlying the persistence of gender inequality is a clash between modernizing values and traditional practices. We also seek to show the interconnections among gender, class, and race in the production of inequality not only between men and women, but also among women on the basis of class and race. We focus on three of the most pressing gender relations issues in today's Brazilian society: the sluggish change in dealing with and overcoming the low percentages of political representation at all levels; the controversies over reproductive rights and abortion; and the renewed concern about widespread violence against women.

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