Brasilien: Fátima Oliveira

We have a lot of work ahead of us. For many generations.

— Fátima Oliveira

Fátima Oliveira (1953) runs Brazil's largest feminist health network, the National Feminist Network for Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Besides practicing medicine, she has published books and articles regarding bioethics, Afro-Brazilian women's health, transgenic (GMOs) and feminism. She is able to articulate scientific knowledge with political pragmatism.

She has five children and two grandchildren. She works as a doctor in a public hospital. She runs a feminist network of 200 organizations. She has a weekly column in an important newspaper. She sends e-mails non-stop and always keeps her cellular phone on. Fátima Oliveira was born in a very poor city in the Northeast of Brazil, where infantile mortality occurs daily. “It shocked me to see so many little angels being buried, to see those little blue coffins. So, I decided to become a doctor.” She faced a tough path to get from rural school to medicine school. Her social work started when she joined the Catholic Working-Class Youth. She used to help prostitutes get medicine, clothes and school for their children. “I consider myself a feminist doctor and an anti-racist.” Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa; half of Brazilian women are black. Research shows that they have a higher incidence of diseases such as sickle cell anemia, uterine fibroids, hypertension, and diabetes, and that these diseases develop differently during black women's pregnancies. “We also have much less access to prenatal care and contraception than white women do.” Fátima Oliveira tries to popularize the concepts of bioethics and biosecurity, which mean nothing more than a complete respect for life. Her goal is to demystify the doctors' power and to build a more democratic science in which citizens can take part in the decision making. Fátima Oliveira defends women's rights 24 hours a day. She is currently focused on disqualifying abortion as a crime and guaranteeing quality health services for all Brazilians. “We live in an age where many rights are written down on paper. The difficulty is the access to them. There is still much left to do, for the Afro-Brazilian and poor women, to attain their rights.”

Rede Nacional Feminista de Saúde e Direitos Reprodutivos (National Feminist Network for Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights)