Brasilien: Luci Teresinha Choinacki

I see myself in each oppressed and poor woman. I do not lose hope. With will, power and union we will be able to beat sexism, conservatism, and prejudice.

— Luci Teresinha Choinacki

For being a peasant, poor, and not having a diploma, Luci Teresinha Choinacki (born 1954) faced all kinds of prejudice when she was elected State Representative, in 1986, for the state of Santa Catarina. Four years later, she got to Brasilia. As a Federal Representative on her third mandate, Luci fights for women's rights and for the land reform. She was able to obtain retirement rights and the right to maternity leave for the female peasants.

Women from all over Brazil, wearing straw hats and slippers, entered the Representative Council in Brasilia. Luci Teresinha Choinacki, the Federal Representative, whose white skin is marked by the sun from her childhood years working the land, remembers the unforeseen moment, in 1992. The peasants pressured the government to approve their right to retirement. “For the first time, rural women entered the plenary assembly, to demand their rights.” First born in a family of small agriculturists of Polish descent, Luci was born in Descanso, a city in the countryside of Santa Catarina, and had to drop out of school when she was 12. Her mother was sick and her father went bankrupt, so they were not able to take care of their other six children. She got married when she was 17. Soon, the first of her four children was born. Her political militancy only began years later in the progressive movements of the Catholic church. Luci was also involved in the Movement of Female Peasants, which gained strength in the beginning of the 1980s. As a coordinator, she used to travel to cities mobilizing peasants. “We were building our fighting banner: stimulation of syndicalism, documentation, retirement, maternity salary and political participation.” She helped to structure the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Labor Party), in which she became an executive secretary. In 1986, she was elected State Representative. “I had no knowledge of the power mechanism, but I had within me the fight of the poor and of the oppressed women.” In 1990, she was elected Federal Representative. From then on, the peasants had a representative in Brasilia and they were able to achieve the right to maternity salary and retirement. Re-elected for the third time in 2002, Luci Teresinha Choinacki took on another battle: to conquest the right to retirement pay for housewives over 60.

Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies)