On March 19, the TSE launched campaign to encourage greater female participation in politics

With the aim of encouraging greater female participation in major country-level decision-making by increasing women´s share in Brazilian politics and securing gender-equality, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) launched the campaign “Women in Politics” on March 19.

With the aim of encouraging greater female participation in major country-level decision-making by increasing women´s share in Brazilian politics and securing gender-equality, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) launched the campaign “Women in Politics” on March 19. The initiative, featuring the slogan “Take part in politics” and the hashtag “#vempraurna” (“#cometotheballotbox”), was launched during a formal sitting at the Plenary of the Federal Senate, at 12 noon.
The ceremony was attended by Justice Marco Aurélio, president of the TSE; Renan Calheiros, president of the Federal Senate; Henrique Eduardo Alves, president of the Chamber of Deputies (House of Representatives); in addition to Brazilian Congresswomen; authorities from all branches of government, journalists and the general public.  
The organization of a campaign aimed at addressing such issue is provided for in Article 93-A of Law N. 9,504/1997 (Elections Act), as amended by Law N. 12,891/2013, known as the new small electoral reform. The aforementioned provision promotes greater female participation in politics by establishing that the TSE, “in the period between March 1 and June 30 of election years, may broadcast institutional advertising on TV and radio (…) with the aim of fostering gender equality and women´s participation in politics”.
According to Justice Marco Aurélio, president of the TSE, “we need to pave the way for greater female participation if we actually hope politics to become a balanced environment”. As he sees it, “it is not reasonable for women to account for a larger share in population terms and not to make up a similar proportion in politics. I usually say that there is a need for change and such change encompasses this commitment, not only regarding the obligation of political parties to ensure equal treatment to women, banishing all kinds of sexism, but also regarding voters´ approach to this matter”.
According to Justice Marco Aurélio, although the legislation in place establishes a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 70% share of candidacies for each gender, “it is necessary to turn formal procedures into reality, that is, political parties need to commit and actually appoint viable female candidates, instead of supporting female candidacies that consist of mere formalities and are registered simply to comply with legal requirements”. “This is indeed a timely campaign. The National Congress has passed a law that lays down provisions on institutional advertising, and the TSE is committed to promote this type of publicity. The purpose is to raise awareness of politicians in general, and also of voters regarding the possibility of choosing a woman to represent them”, explains the president of the TSE.
The campaign consists of a poster, a short film and a spot, and will air until June. It will be transmitted by radio and television broadcasters across the country.
For further information, please call +55 (61) 3030-7080.
Background
In 1997, the Elections Act provided for the reservation of seats to ensure women´s representation in proportional offices – federal, state and district representatives and city councilors. In 2009, after the sanction of Law N. 12,034 (the first small electoral reform), such minimum female representation became mandatory. The amended text requires the filling (and not simply the reservation) of seats: “a minimum share of 30% (thirty percent) and a maximum of 70% (seventy percent) for male and female candidacies”.
The same small electoral reform has introduced new provisions to the Political Parties Act (Law N. 9,096/1995), seeking to ensure the promotion and dissemination of women´s participation in politics. Such provisions include the mandatory application of Party Fund resources in the creation and maintenance of programs for the promotion and dissemination of women´s political participation according to a percentage to be determined by the national party leadership, provided a minimum of 5% (five percent) of the total is observed. Statutory provisions also require that free political party advertising on TV and radio promotes and disseminates women´s political participation, making sure to grant women a percentage of time to be determined by the national party leadership, provided a minimum of 10% (ten percent) is observed.
Regardless of the fact that the legislation in place encourages greater female participation in politics, and that women account for the larger share of registered voters in Brazil (51.95%), along with the fact that the country is presently ruled by a female president and that female participation in courts continues in an ascending trend, a contradiction remains: Brazil occupies the 156th position in a ranking of 188 countries that measures the presence of women in the Legislative Branch. These figures were disclosed in the primer “+ Women in Politics: Women, take a stand”, produced by the Special Prosecution Office for Women´s Affairs of the Senate, in partnership with female representatives from the Chamber of Deputies (House of Representatives) and the Special Prosecution Office for Women´s Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies.
Furthermore, the number of female candidates elected in the general elections of 2010 still is significantly smaller than their male counterparts´. Out of the 513 federal representatives elected for a seat at the Chamber of Deputies (House of Representatives), only 45 of them were women, accounting for a share of approximately 9% of the total. With regard to the Senate, considering the 54 seats (two-thirds) that were up for grabs during those elections, female candidates gained seven of them (13%).