Brasilien: Elza Berquó

Peace is the respect for every human being, regardless of race, religion and political beliefs.

— Elza Berquó

In 1969, Elza Berquó (1931) had to interrupt a brilliant career as a university professor because of the military regime. She was invited to work abroad, but she did not leave Brazil. The reason that made her stay is her belief in scientific knowledge as an important instrument against social injustice. Author of major researches on exclusion and population inequality, she provides the means for social movements and governmental entities to act.

Demographer, PhD in Biostatistics (Columbia University, New York), Elza Berquó was returning from a trip when she heard, on the radio, her name on a list of professors whose licenses had been revoked by the military dictatorship. “I was a professor at the School of Public Health in the University of São Paulo, and I was forced to retire. It was a tragedy, it was my life.” On that same year, 1969, Elza and other well-known and persecuted academics founded the Brazilian Center for Planning and Analysis (Cebrap), a non-profitable organization, which aims to analyze the social reality of Brazil. They started to research and publish, and also to disturb the oppressive regime. When they published the book ‘São Paulo, Growth and Poverty’–showing the extraordinarily severe social inequality of the greatest Brazilian metropolis–a bomb was thrown into Cebrap. They did not give up. Elza Berquó coordinates hundreds of researches about family structure, fecundity, population aging, reproductive health and sexual rights that were published in Brazil and abroad. She published the book ‘Young People on the Track of Public Policies’ and coordinated the video ‘Breaking the Silence: Demolishing Racism in Schools.’ Aside from Cebrap, in 1982, on the country's transition to democracy, Elza founded the Nucleus of Population Studies of the University of Campinas (Nepo/Unicamp), where she currently coordinates the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Program. In 12 years, the Program has educated countless professionals from the entire country. In 1991, Elza also helped drawing up the Citizenship and Reproduction Committee (CCR), a place for debates and seminars. During that same year, she created, in partnership with the Mac Arthur Foundation, the first program for Afro-Brazilian researchers in Brazil.

Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (Brazilian Center for Planning and Analysis)