Brazilian 'Daisies' Press Rights Of Rural And Forest Labor
Brazilian women who work in rural areas and forests are pressing their campaign for legal and land rights. Last month, President Dilma Rousseff, a self-proclaimed ally, promised them floating health clinics for rural rivers and stronger enforcement of labor standards.
Thousands of Brazilians--mostly women--converged in the capital here last month to call for improved rights for women who work in rural areas and forests in the fourth March of the Daisies.
The women, or "Margaridas," which means "daisies" in Portuguese, wore purple shirts and straw hats--the uniform of their movement.
Since 2000, the Daisies have achieved the right for rural female workers to retire at age 55 with public retirement benefits, gained property through land reform and expanded their access to identification documents to allow them to benefit from government policies.
"The Daisies' March is a demonstration that pressures the government for women's rights, wage equality, land distribution for family agriculture--that is, policies that favor women and rural workers in general," says Maria Luiza dos Santos, a rural worker from Afonso Cunha, a city in the interior of Maranhao state.
This year, the women presented a list of 150 demands to President Dilma Rousseff, a longtime Daisy ally known for her slogan, "A wealthy country is a country with no poverty."
Rousseff responded to the Daisies the day after the march, promising to build 16 floating facilities in forest rivers to provide basic health care to workers and 10 centers to enforce health and safety standards in the workplace by 2012.
The president also promised to invest more in family-owned farming immediately and to implement a national program on sustainable agriculture to benefit women from the forests and rural communities.
"Rousseff reunited the media, civil society organizations and the ministers and answered the demands of the Margaridas with the launching of a national program on maternal health, for example," says Kelly Cristina Goncalves, a member of the Articulation of Brazilian Women, a nonpartisan group that encourages women's political participation.