Benedita da Silva – Brazil

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Benedita da Silva (1942) began her political career in the 1980s with the foundation and presidency of the Association of Women from Chapéu Mangueira, a slum in Rio, where she was born and lived for 57 years. She was elected town councilor once and federal deputy twice. She was the first woman to be elected for the senate (1994) and the first woman to govern the state of Rio. She occupied the Ministry of Social Assistance for one year. (1000peacewomen)

She says: “Peace is individual and it is inside of each one of us”.

Benedita Souza da Silva Sampaio, (born in Rio de Janeiro, April 26, 1942-) is an Afro-Brazilian politician. During her life she faced a lot of prejudice for her humble origin, but she overcame the adversities and was Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro and, later, Minister of State in the Government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (full text).



Benedita da Silva – Brazil

She works for the Partido dos Trabalhadores PT.

Daughter of a laundress and of a peasant, raised with 14 siblings, Benedita da Silva was the only one in her family to obtain a university degree. Her mother was a midwife in the community, and she was the inspiration for Benedita’s work as nursing assistant. She was able to conclude a course on social service in 1982, the same year she was elected for her first political term as a town councilor.

Her trajectory is marked by sexual abuse, which she suffered in her childhood; by the loss of a son, who died of starvation; and by the desire to have a different life. Several times, Benedita had to collect leftover food from the trash to feed her family.

Until she began her political mobilization, she was always a quiet woman.

“Just like many other thousands of Afro-Brazilian women who live oppressed by poverty and by the lack of an active voice in society”. Her community work privileged Afro-Brazilian women who did not have the right to vote in community meetings. Benedita founded and became president of the Association of Women from Chapéu Mangueira, an organization that established a pioneer dialogue between women from the slum and middle-class feminist institutions.

Benedita’s mother ironed clothes for a living and was hired by the Kubitschek family when Juscelino Kubitschek was running for president in 50’s. Benedita was a girl who delivered the clothes to the house of the Kubitschek family. Elected for her first term as a federal deputy in 1986, she occupied the Deputies’ Chamber along with Marcia Kubitschek, daughter of Juscelino. Married, mother of two and grandmother of four, her political career is marked by the defense of women’s and Afro-Brazilian’s causes. Today she dedicates herself fulltime to the Benedita da Silva Foundation that assists the poor and Afro-Brazilians.

Benedita da Silva is responsible for bills such as the one that recognizes Afro-Brazilian leader Zumbi de Palmares as a national hero and also the one that guarantees labor rights for domestic workers, a field of work occupied mostly by Afro-Brazilians. (1000peacewomen).

Brazilians usher in peaceful revolution.

Benedita da Silva nasceu em 1942 na favela da Praia do Pinto (RJ) e viveu, durante 57 anos, no Morro do Chapéu Mangueira no Leme. Em 1994, tornou-se a primeira mulher negra a ocupar uma vaga no Senado, dando continuidade a uma carreira pública que começou em 1982, quando foi eleita vereadora no Rio de Janeiro, após militância na Associação de Favelas do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

Benedita, que é formada em auxiliar de enfermagem e tem diploma universitário no curso de Estudos Sociais, foi eleita vice-governadora do Rio de Janeiro em 1998 na chapa de Anthony Garotinho e assumiu o governo em abril, tornando-se a primeira mulher negra a governar um Estado brasileiro.

Em 1986, Benedita elegeu-se deputada federal e participou da Assembléia Nacional Constituinte, onde atuou como titular da Subcomissão dos Negros, das Populações Indígenas e Minorias. Em seguida, passou à Comissão de Ordem Social e da Comissão dos Direitos e Garantias do Homem e da Mulher.

Depois de reeleger-se em 1990, Benedita da Silva candidatou-se à Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro. Venceu no primeiro turno, no entanto, perdeu no segundo para César Maia. Em 2001, presidiu a Conferência Nacional de Combate ao Racismo, Discriminação Racial, Xenofobia e Intolerâncias Correlatas, que reuniu mais de dez mil pessoas de todo país, entre lideranças de ONGs e governos. (RadioBras).

… In 1982, da Silva founded and ran for political office in Rio as a Workers Party candidate, becoming Brazil’s first Black city councilwoman. In 1986, she became a Federal Deputy and then Senator. She fights the obstacles of race, gender, and poverty with creativity and has emerged a champion. Silva, a founding politician thinks that Blacks should play a more significant role in Brazilian politics. Black people comprise almost 50% of Brazil’s population yet are underrepresented in politics, in the military, and in businesses. She advocates a special kind of socialism for the Brazilian government wherein the state blends different social forces while focusing on its own internal market … (full text).

Benedita da Silva, the first Black woman elected senator in Brazil’s history and that country’s former Minister of Social Affairs, was in Atlanta February 17-25, 2005 to raise support and awareness for establishing the headquarters of the Benedita da Silva Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to develop and fund projects related to health, housing, education and the economic and human rights of Brazil’s Afro … (full text).


As the United States continues its national debate on race, there is much to learn from the Brazilian experience. Benedita’s story brings that discussion to life in a powerful way that engages both Brazilians and Americans … (full text).

Latin American Bureau: Gender.

Political Career:

  • 1982 – She was elected city councilor of Rio de Janeiro for the Worker’s Party.
  • 1986 – Elected to the National Congress, she fought to make amendments to the Brazilian Constitution on racial crimes, 120 days maternity leave, prohibition of difference of wages and right of the prison inmates to breat-feed their children.
  • 1994 – She was elected for the Senate, becoming the first female senator in Brazil.
  • 1998 – She became Vice-Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro on the Anthony Garotinho ticket.
  • 2002 – With Governor Anthony Garotinho resigning to run for President, she assumes the Governorship of the State of Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first woman to occupy the office.
  • 2003 – Leaving the State government, she takes the position of Minister of the Social Action, where she remains until January 2004.
  • 2006 – Assumed the general coordination of the campaign of re-election of current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the state of Rio De Janeiro. Some periodicals speculate that, in 2008, she will run for mayor of the City of Rio De Janeiro. Others, argue that the former-governor will run for mayor of Itaboraí (a fast-growing suburb of Rio de Janeiro). (full text).

Benedita da Silva is a vibrant, unconventional activist who is working to change the face of Brazil. Hers is a first hand account of the most pressing social problems in Brazil: indigenous rights, street children, land and racism. Her activism, from her days as a favela organiser to national politician, reflects the most pressing concerns of Brazil’s poor majority. (full text).

Social Inclusion of Disenfranchised People: Benedita da Silva.

Find her and her publications on ; on amazon; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

More blogs about Benedita Da Silva.


I was Born a Black Woman;


Radio Canada, Dimanche Magazine;

N A S C I M E N T O S;

Senado Federal;;

THE MILDRED & GEORGE WEISSMAN School of Arts and Sciences, Baruch College, Archive of Announcements and Events, 2003-2004;

Confederação das Mulheres do Brasil;


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