Mandatory quotas, under which at least 30% of the candidates should be female, have helped. However, Eugenio warns that simply being fielded as a candidate is not enough; political parties need to invest in their training and visibility. So far, “we haven’t seen the kind of proportional investment in Black women that can make their candidacies really competitive,” she says.
Political campaigns are costly and Black women usually come from poorer backgrounds, which puts them at a disadvantage from the outset. “The funding I receive from the party is low and it makes it hard for me to organise and take part in many events,” Mittelbach said. “And with the 22 seconds of radio and television time I get, I can hardly introduce my programme, let alone talk about issues of gender, race and class.”
Brazil is a diverse country but Congress does not reflect the population. Government data shows that Black and mixed-race people make up nearly 55% of the population, but less than a quarter of the lower house of Congress is Black or mixed race and only about 15% of members of the lower house are women.
Since 2020, Brazil's political parties have been required by law to apportion public funding and airtime fairly to the election campaigns of candidates of all genders and races (if a certain percentage of candidates are Black, then Black candidates must receive that same percentage of funding, TV and radio). But only a few parties complied in the 2020 municipal election, when voters picked mayors and councillors in more than 5,000 cities across the country, and an amnesty was granted to those that transgressed.
In practice, parties invest in already-experienced politicians, and these are disproportionately white men. The law doesn’t make any special provisions for Black women, and Eugenio thinks this makes political parties complicit in “maintaining inequalities, ignoring intersectionality and marginalising Black women in terms of political representation.”
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