Brasilien: Silvia Pimentel

Unfortunately, women still face discrimination almost all over the world.

— Silvia Pimentel

For 30 years, Silvia Pimentel (1940) has been fighting social and legal inequalities against women. Holding a degree in law, she faces controversial issues such as domestic violence, trafficking of girls and women, homosexuality and abortion. With feminist Florisa Verucci, she drew up the New Women's Civil Statute, which was incorporated into the new Brazilian Civil Code, in 2002. She became, in 2005, the vice-president of the highest legal instance in the defense of women's rights, the UN Cedaw Committee.

One of Silvia Pimentel's oldest memories is from 1945. Her neighbors, in a wealthy neighborhood of São Paulo, were Jewish-German, and she witnessed the arrival, from Europe, of the couple's daughter and three grandchildren. War survivors; scarred by Nazism. “The youngest child was blindfolded. She had gone blind. Since then, I have always been very aware of human suffering.” She became a great human rights defender. As a law graduate, she refused to accept the Civil Code in force at the time. “The legal inequality between men and women was huge. One of the articles, for instance, used to allow men to annul the marriage if he could prove within ten days that the woman was not a virgin.” In search for a fairer sense of justice, she got involved with the feminist movement, which was rising in the 1970s. She helped found the Feminist National Front, a pioneer Brazilian feminist NGO. In partnership with Florisa Verucci, she drew up the New Women's Civil Statute, a proposal to change to Civil Code that was handed to the National Congress by 50 women from the entire country, in 1981. “Our suggestions–which eliminated every inequality–were transformed into bills in the National Congress. Indeed, most of them were included in the new Civil Code of 2002.” Professor of Philosophy of Law for over 20 years and author of many books, Silvia took part in the formation of two major international networks: the International Women's Rights Action Watch (Iwraw), in 1986, and the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (Cladem), in 1987. Currently, she coordinates Cladem/Brazil that is in charge of important projects alongside networks, women's organizations and governmental organizations for human rights. In January, she was elected, in a plenary session composed of 177 countries, vice-president of the Cedaw Committee.

Comitê Latino-americano e do Caribe para a Defesa dos Direitos da Mulher (National Section of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights)