Women’s Economic Empowerment Project Completes One Year in Rio de Janeiro

10 Brazilian women sit in a circle on the ground, their feet touching, in a group workshop.On December 14th, the first stage of the project Unindo Prazeres: homens e mulheres pela igualdade (in English: Combining Goals: men and women for equality), which has been taking place in Morro dos Prazeres since October 2013, came to an end. To commemorate the end of the project, the final phase of a men’s soccer tournament kicked off, as did a Bingo competition. Bingo involved men, women and their families and used – as part of the game – concepts related to women’s economic empowerment in the community.

In addition to promoting economic empowerment of women, the project aims to raise awareness about the importance of engaging men in gender equality. Over three months, about 20 women participated in gender and income generation workshops, while 80 men participated in workshops focused on deconstructing rigid masculinity norms. The soccer tournament was used to mobilize and sensitize men on these issues.

In order to mobilize the community, the project promoted three bingo competitions, named Unindo Prazeres Bingo (in English: Combining Goals Bingo), which addressed gender issues and women’s empowerment in a fun way.

During the intervention, researchers conducted focus groups with female recipients of the federal poverty relief program, Bolsa Família (3 groups with 20 women each) as well as in-depth interviews with couples, to better understand the impact of the program on their lives. Quantitative and qualitative research was conducted at the end of the project to measure the impacts on the attitudes and perceptions of men and women involved. A focus group with 20 women participants was conducted, and 30 men responded to a survey, which included the GEM scale that measures men’s and women’s gender equitable attitudes.

In addition to in Rio de Janeiro, the same project will be implemented in the city Recife, in 2014, and in a rural community in the state of Rio de Janeiro under coordination of Institute Papai. These additional implementations will allow for a comparison regarding outcome and impact in different contexts, which will contribute to a better understanding of the effects of Bolsa Família on women’s empowerment. Data from these new sites will also contribute to the design of complementary activities for Bolsa Família, and a draft of public policy recommendations.

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