Looking for Femininity, Volunteers Unearth Stories of Strength

Apr 9, 2015

When 100 volunteers took to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to interview ordinary women, they found stories of courage, resilience and perseverance.

atados_blog.jpgVolunteers hang fliers showcasing the FEMINICIDADE campaign.
Dona Francisca, a 57-year-old rural worker who used to “work like a man” in the crops told one volunteer: “My dream was to be a truck driver. My father would not let me. For him, it’s a man’s job. I think I will die without fulfilling my dream. When I talk to God I tell him that if one day I get my driver’s license I will be the happiest person in the world.”
The interviews for the recently completed volunteer project took place last month in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8.
ATADOS, a Brazil affiliate of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, launched the campaign – FEMINICIDADE (Femininity) – with local organizations SP InvisivelCirculo de SonadorasFabrica dos SonhosAcumputura Urbana and Hey Sampa.
The objective: to recapture the original meaning of the day, which throughout the years has become more commercial.
With cameras and notebooks in hand, the volunteers fanned out across the city in search of stories that would inspire other women to continue the fight against oppression and for equal opportunity.
Many of the women shared their experiences of living in a male-dominated society, like 78-year-old Arlete Viera, who said:
“It is harder to be a woman when you don’t get to make choices about your life. Look at my brother. He was going to be a pastor, was prepared for that. He was the only one able to finish school. We all had to work, instead, and I ended up not being the great woman I wanted to be. I hope today girls will allow themselves to be different, so they can help us to rewrite this story.” 
The volunteers, who interviewed about 50 women, reconvened at Roosevelt Square in the center of São Paulo to share the stories they heard, tell about their experiences and engage in meaningful conversations about such topics as religion and the role of the women in modern society. 
“I hope we don't stop here,” said volunteer Laleska Walver. “I hope this campaign will remind people that these conversations are not only necessary, they are urgent."
To see pictures of the project, click here.