Don’t let yourself be destroyed …
Gather new stones
and build new poems.
Recreate your life, always, always.
Remove stones and plant roses and make sweets. Restart.
(Cora Coralina)

In June, CEPIA celebrates 30 years of a long and productive journey in defense of women’s human rights. We were born in 1990, in a democratic context, a decade in which non-governmental organizations were established in the national political arena and women’s movements and feminism were fundamental protagonists in the affirmation of women’s rights.

CEPIA  was present and active throughout the historical national and international context of the 1990s, marked by innovative coalitions and actions by feminist movements, networks and grassroots organizations,  in the International UN Conferences  on Environment (Rio), 1992, Human Rights ( Vienna), 1993, Population and Development (Cairo), 1994, the IV World Conference of Women (Beijing), 1995 and the Conference on Racism (Durban).  In that decade CEPIA also marked its protagonism in the legislative, participating in the elaboration of the text of the Law on Family Planning (1996) which regulated item 8, article 226, of the Federal Constitution and incorporated the subsidies of the Cairo and Beijing Conferences.

In our trajectory, we have strengthened the feminist agenda of previous decades, especially those proposed in the Brazilian Women’s Charter to the Constituents of 1987, and enshrined in our 1988 Constitution. We have launched ourselves in the expansion of these rights, in the conquest of new rights and in the defense of public policies that would make their exercise feasible. We have always been fully aware that the distance between the achievement of formal rights and their implementation was, and still is, a dilemma of our democracy.

Since its inception, CEPIA has defined a line of action focused on research, dissemination of knowledge, dialogue with broad sectors of society, work with women and young people, training and qualifying diverse audiences, including public agents in the areas of security, justice and health for better care for women. Advocacy actions in the defense of women’s rights and their implementation in public policies accompany our performance over these 3 decades. We had an important role in the drafting of the text that gave rise to the Law of Domestic and Family Violence against Women – Maria da Penha Law (2006) in a joint action with a consortium of feminist organizations and a strong advocacy action in the National Congress. We boosted our work to defend sexual and reproductive rights, supporting the Technical Norms of the Ministry of Health on care for women victims of sexual violence and dialogued with health professionals to expand the care for victims of sexual violence and access to legal abortion and safe. Between 2003 and 2016, on a purposeful basis, we dialogued with the Secretariat of Policies for Women, SPM, advocating for new public policies and for the set of themes and issues on the agenda of women’s movements and organizations. We also acted with the institutions of Justice, especially before the Supreme Federal Court (STF) to guarantee the constitutionality of the Maria da Penha Law, to defend the right of women to legal and safe abortion, especially in cases of anencephaly and the Zika virus, and we were victorious in the STF in expanding women’s access to public resources necessary for the expansion of women’s political representation.

We work with adolescents and young people in situations of social vulnerability to promote education in defense of human rights, gender equality, repudiation of racism, respect for diversity. We develop our projects in interaction and in learning process with these young people and  also through our social media.

We also work on training and empowering other women, representatives of NGOs, and government agencies, in training courses to which we bring the international dimension of the challenges faced by  other women’s organizations, as well as their solidarity as  partners in the global WLP network, women’s learning partnership for rights, development and peace.

As of 2016, we sail in turbulent waters and storms. Weakening of democracy, reduction of social rights, increase in inequalities and intolerance, characterize the current context of Brazil. We saw with amazement and fear the 2016 coup against President Dilma. With perplexity the advance of the extreme right in its articulation with fundamentalists, the institutionalization of hate speech, the negation of science, the growth of racism, homophobia and the denial of the gender perspective. On the other hand, we see feminist youth reacting with hope, black women’s movements denouncing institutional racism, and the capacity of institutions and civil society organizations to resist the pandemics that plague us in health and politics. We do not give up our ideals and our performance. We have a competent team committed to our ideals without which we would not have gone through these 3 decades of resistance and achievements.

We are going through these new storm times with the same strength and determination following the lesson of Cora Coralina. Do not let ourselves be destroyed – we continue to write our history, recreate democracy, remove stones, plant and sing always the hope and beauty of a sweeter and better world.

Jacqueline Pitanguy and Leila Linhares Barsted

Executive Coordinators

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