Brasilien: Leila Linhares Barsted

Fraternity between women was fundamental for the creation of the feminist movement in Brazil. That is why I believe that, after 30 years, the movement is still strong.

— Leila Linhares Barsted

Leila Linhares Barsted (1945) was studying law when she started her left-wing political militancy. She defended political prisoners that were victims of the military dictatorship in the country. In 1975, she participated in the foundation of Ceres Group, pioneer in the new Brazilian feminism and responsible for the activation of the movement in many Brazilian states. In 1990, she founded the Cepia, a non-governmental organization that acts in the area of women rights.

Raised in a family with three brothers and three sisters, it was the different treatment given by her parents to the boys and the girls that made Leila Linhares realize that men and women were not exactly the same. Leila's involvement with feminism came as an answer to the questions that her political militancy did not solve. “In the battles against the dictatorship, the subject of gender did not appear,” she remembers. Many years later, in the first international women's conference, promoted by the UN, it was the subject of violence that touched Leila. “The relationship between men and women is still marked by violence. Women are victims exclusively because they are women, especially in the cases of sexual violence and in conjugal relationships,” she says. Leila is part of the group that helped create the first state councils for the defense in the beginning of the 1980s, when the country started to breathe the airs of re-democratization. Today, she is part of a group of lawyers that elaborates a new proposal of punishment in case of domestic violence. The Brazilian law in vigor foresees soft penalties for male aggressors. Leila participates in the State Commission of Women's Security, created to monitor and to pressure the government in actions such as the maintenance of shelters for women victims of violence, health care centers and specialized police precincts. At Cepia (Citizenship, Study, Research, Information and Action), her agenda has another fundamental item: the fight to legalize abortion. As the director of the NGO, Leila acts in the Journeys for the Right for Legal and Secure Abortion. She was born in Rio, is a mother of three children and grandmother of a girl. She taught her granddaughter to say a sentence that she considers fundamental: “Men and women have same rights.”

Cidadania, Estudo, Pesquisa, Informação e Ação (Citizenship, Study, Research, Information and Action)