Brazil: Zuleika Alembert

Today, I am aware of the fact that women will not be free until the environmental problem is solved. As long as I have a strand of life, I will dedicate it to these two causes.

— Zuleika Alembert

Zuleika Alembert (1922) started her political militancy fighting against the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas during the Estado Novo (1937-1945), the New State–second phase of Vargas' first government. She was elected constituent deputy for the state of São Paulo, affiliated to the Communist Party of Brazil. She fought for the formulation of a specific public policy for women. She was one of the founders of the State Council for the Female Condition in São Paulo. Since 1992, she supports ecofeminism.

At age 83, living alone in Rio, Zuleika Alembert is a woman that exhales physical strength and, above all, an impressive intellectual knowledge when it comes to defending the union between the preservation of the environment and gender equality. As a congresswoman, she defended the Christmas bonus that led to the 13th salary benefit. As a militant of the Communist Party in the 1940s, she began supporting the incorporation of gender matters to the Marxist battle. For many years, she considered herself a “Marxist that used to study women's problems.” In 1980, she accepted a feminist identity inside the party and, three years later, when she left the party, she dedicated herself exclusively to the cause. Her militancy as a communist began when she was a congresswoman in the 1940s. She lost the right to fulfill her term of office when the Communist Party was classified as illegal. Between 1951 and 1954, she was the general-secretary of the Communist Youth. Ten years later, the military coup persecuted her and so she carried on her mission illegally. Exiled, she militated against the Vietnam War, helped other Brazilians that had been exiled and was one of the creators of the Committee of Brazilian Women Living Abroad–to help refugees that arrived in Paris, running from the military coup that brought down Salvador Allende from the presidency of Chile. Author of eight books, she has just published a collection of articles called ‘Women in History–The History of Women.’ Zuleika sustains that, in the search for gender equality, democracy is a fundamental aspect. “As long as, in Brazilian politics, only 10% of the elective positions are occupied by women, we will not be able to say that democracy is a reality.”