In the global context of pandemics and social conflicts in general, we cannot disassociate a political responsibility involved in these aspects. Everywhere we look, there is a political situation forming part of the social surroundings. Everything is political. We cannot think about politics every two years, but politics has to do with the development of life in society (MAAR, 2017).
Talking about society raises some questions about the way structures and social beings work. Therefore, talking about women in politics implies understanding what constitutes being a woman in society, together with the political sphere that surrounds us. In the beginning, there are two ways of understanding the statement “women in politics”: the first being the participation of women subjects in making politics, in the structuring of a social organization; and the second how to be a woman in society today is a political act. We’ll cover both topics in more detail.
The policy itself appears in conjunction with history itself, so that it becomes a result of the “activity of men themselves living in society” (MAAR, 2017). When analyzing the previous quote, we can understand the term “men” as human beings or even as male people who for centuries have been part almost exclusively of world politics, since the organizational times of Sparta and Athens, for example, in that we saw women and slaves without political decision-making power in their own society.
In this context, women's political participation came from feminist movements and their search for a voice and a political place in society. At the beginning of the records of feminist movements in the mid-19th century, women were organizing themselves on several fronts to fight for their right to vote; for the occupation of public spaces, and not just the compiled “house-husband-children” to which they were submitted; and for egalitarian social rights, the latter a constant struggle that is still very present today.
From these movements we can go into some names that were essential for the moment that precedes the ideas of suffragism and the right to vote for women, but that without the achievements of these women, perhaps it would not be able to build a history which we know today. Olympe de Gouges is a name from the French revolution that stands out for writing the “Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens”, an important step towards recognizing women as a subject of social importance. Although we know that history continues to be written by men, her work is not as well known, but it was fundamental for the construction of this 19th century feminist context.
Another very important name that appears in our research is that of Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer who left us valuable words to think about the revolution of women from education, the right to education, social rights, the importance of women occupying this educational space to change all the oppressive difficulties that the woman subject was (and still goes through) conditioned.
Entering in the Brazilian context, we have names like Nísia Floresta who also contributed from our country to the world, being one of the main Brazilian women of the 19th century to write, formulate, translate texts, and fight for women's access to education (Prestes, 2020). During this period, we were inserted in a conjuncture with some of the main struggles of women who stand out and understand the role of society that we observe today, among them was abolitionism, the struggle for the right to education and (finally we came to) suffragism (Prestes , 2020).
The suffrage movement started in the late nineteenth century in London, England, with its first demand as the right to vote for women (Pinto 2010). "Suffragettes, as they became known, promoted large demonstrations in London, were arrested several times, went on hunger strikes" (Pinto 2010, p.15 [emphasis added]). In Brazil, the movement gained strength and materialized as the first feminist wave through the struggle for the return, led by biologist Bertha Lutz who was one of the founders of the Brazilian Federation for Female Progress and won several political rights, including what led to the vote in 1932 (Pinto, 2010). Still the resistance against the work and the education of women and their participation in unions and parties often came from their partners, a condition placed by upper class women. But they were the ones who came together in militancy to change this situation and achieve equal rights and equal respect in the field of work.
Without the fight of these women, we would not have the minimum rights that we have today, and even less possibilities to continue fighting for gender equality and an end to violence against women. It is in this context that we see then that being a woman today is a political act.
When we assume that we are women, we are affirming to society that there is a difference between us and men, but that our rights should be treated in an egalitarian political sphere and that the minimum necessary respect is the consideration of women as a non-subject of violence. From the moment we assume the discourse of gender equality and equity, we are making politics and seeking to change unequal and violent social structures.
In making politics we are changing the male gears established many centuries ago that never made room for the woman subject as a subject of rights. By entering the feminist struggle we are asserting ourselves as a subject of rights, social equality and not victims of violence.
PINTO, Céli Regina J. (2010). Feminismo, história e poder. Revista de Sociologia e Política, 18 (36), (p. 15-23), jun. Disponível em: <http://ww.scielo.br/pdf/rsocp/v18n36/03.pdf>. Acesso em: 10 nov. 2020.
Prestes, Ana. (2020). O sufragismo e a conquista do direito ao voto no Brasil.
Curso online sobre Feminismo - Por que Lutamos?. Disponível em: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FJqqjMft20&list=PLZOhQw6rxxr6TQ1vWQ_nDxbIBm47ahlxk&index=4>. Acesso em: 10 nov. 2020.
MAAR, Wolfgang Leo. O que é política. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 2017.
Librarian, English Teacher and Feminist master student with project in favor of the end of violence against women.