On this International Women’s Day our thoughts go to all the courageous women who brought sexual assault and harassment at the workplace to center stage. To all the working women who have to choose between caring for a sick child or loved one and risking losing their job. All the women in ICE detention who are separated from their families. All the women and girls who are oppressed, sexually assaulted, diminished, and silenced.
We are with you. We are you.
Women all over the world won’t forget 2017. Neither will Brazilian women in Massachusetts. It was the year scores of women denounced their abusers regardless of who or how powerful they were. In Massachusetts, for the first time ever, three Brazilian women ran for office and one, housecleaner and small business owner Margareth Shepard, became the first Brazilian in the U.S. to be elected for office (district 7 city council, Framingham).
In 2018 we will build on these victories and collectively work even harder to empower women and end violence against women at all levels. At the same time, we must not forget that the road ahead is rough but not impossible to be conquered.
Since 1975 when the first International Women’s Day was officially celebrated, women have experienced many improvements, yet we still face economic and political oppression, poverty, inequality, violence, discrimination, xenophobia, and bigotry.
The Brazilian Women’s Group has been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights since 1995 when a group of women got together and decided to make a difference in their communities. Twenty-three years later, the Brazilian Women’s Group has become a strong voice in the community for women’s and immigrant rights by empowering immigrant Brazilian women by creating a space where women feel safe and respected.
In 2006, we launched a women’s cooperative to help Brazilian housecleaners to work in a healthy environment and to help end the exploitation of “helpers” by the “owners of the cleaning schedules”. We have provided hundreds of workshops, training, and leadership development opportunities, and have engaged women and men in the political process.
While our community has deepened its roots in Massachusetts— Brazilians are now the second largest group at naturalization ceremonies — we still see too many of our sisters suffer from poverty, exploitation, unjust immigration enforcement, and abuse.
In 2018 more than ever we need to connect with other grassroots movements and we need to take collective actions to continue to provoke social and economic changes that will once and forever end poverty and violence.