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COMMITMENT| 30.06.2021

Ela Segura, our Brazil-based project in support of women

Marta Villalba

Ana Fontes

Ana Fontes, a social entrepreneur, founder of RME and RME Institute, Brazilian Delegate at W20/G20, selected as one of the 20 most powerful women in Brazil by Forbes BR 2019 and one of the LinkedIn Top Voices 2020.

A new women’s training program in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE aims to train around 50,000 women across Brazil over the course of a year to boost their entrepreneurship and employability. This is just one of the initiatives that the company is allocating aid to this year, with 10 million euros being provided to help alleviate the impacts of the pandemic in the Latin American region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation of socially vulnerable women, who are victims of unemployment and moral and physical aggression.

People often ask me why we should help, support and back women and provide them with the appropriate structural, social, financial and professional conditions that they deserve.

In fact, there are countless reasons. But here, using this platform provided by MAPFRE, I want to highlight some of the most important ones that are directly related to the daily lives of millions of Brazilian women.

As a woman myself, I of course have personal motives for driving actions and programs that promote the social inclusion of women. As a citizen, my reasons go far beyond this. That is what I want to talk about here today.

First, we must understand why women have been and continue to be most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Beyond the overall high rate of unemployment, women’s participation in Brazil’s labor market has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years.

According to data from the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística — Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), women accounted for less than 45 percent of the labor force in the last quarter of 2020. Before the pandemic, the average was over 50 percent.

While the crisis has affected several productive sectors, the most affected segments have been services, hospitality, food, beauty and domestic services, where positions are mainly held by women. This explains why women’s unemployment figures were strongly impacted.

Unfortunately, the scenario only worsens when we look at the family lives of Brazilian women. A survey conducted and published by the FBSP (Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública — Brazilian Forum of Public Safety) demonstrated the deterioration in the situations facing Brazilian women, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The central and most serious aspect of this deterioration is violence. In the last 12 months, a quarter of women in Brazil aged 16 years or over has suffered some form of aggression. This means more than 17 million women have been victims of physical or verbal abuse, humiliation or ridicule, both in the family setting and in the professional sphere. In seven out of ten cases, the aggressor was someone the victim knew, while around 45 percent of aggressors were husbands, partners or ex-partners, showing the prevalence of domestic and intrafamily violence.

When looking at racial inequality, the study reveals an even more alarming fact: Women of color are the main victims of violence in Brazil, with 53 percent of them experiencing some form of aggression. All of this drives me to support, assist and back women and create fair social, economic and professional conditions for women in situations of social vulnerability. As a woman from northeast Brazil, of black origin and raised in the outskirts of the city, I have spent more than ten years pursuing these causes at the head of RME (Rede Mulher Empreendedora — Brazil’s network of female entrepreneurs) and through programs and projects run in partnership with the private sector. 

One of these initiatives is Ela Segura, our new women’s training program in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE. We want to provide training to around 50,000 women across Brazil over the course of a year, with a focus on entrepreneurship and employability. Some of these women will also be given food aid for six months and the initial capital to set up or launch a new business.

Ela Segura is undoubtedly one of the most robust and comprehensive projects we have at our institute.

Want to find out more? Visit the IRME  and Ela Segura websites.