The FINANCIAL — WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of Brazilian women marched last weekend to voice their contempt for presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, whose history of sexist comments likely exemplifies the lack of respect that most women — and even men — feel women get in their country. Fewer than one in five women in Brazil (18%) say women in their country are treated with respect and dignity, and 28% of men feel the same way.
However, the anger on display with the #NotHim movement in Brazil this past weekend predates Bolsonaro’s controversial comments that a fellow member of Congress was too ugly to rape or that women should not be paid the same as men. Since 2011, at most, about one in three Brazilians overall have said women in their country are treated with respect and dignity.
The trend instead provides evidence of the “machismo” mindset that is still entrenched in Brazil and other countries in the region, where fewer than one in four women overall in 2017 said women in their countries are treated with respect and dignity. As far back as 2012, Latin Americans have been the least likely in the world to say women in their countries are treated this way.
These numbers — and Bolsonaro’s comments — largely reflect two major problems that women in Brazil, and across the region, continue to face: violence against them and inequality.
Gallup data from just last year show fewer than one in three women (31%) in Latin America overall said they feel safe walking alone at night. This is the lowest number on record in the region. In Brazil, where recent studies show that about one in three women say they have suffered violence — often at the hands of a current or former partner — an even lower 28% say they feel safe.
Line graph. Most women in Brazil do not feel safe walking alone at night where they live.
And, while men and women in Brazil are both sour on the job market, women — who are typically more likely than men to be unemployed — are even more pessimistic. Just 15% of women in Brazil say it is a good time to find a job where they live, compared with 25% of men.
Takeaway: As disrespected as they may feel, women’s votes matter in Brazil’s election this weekend. In fact, with Brazilian female voters reportedly outnumbering male voters by close to 7 million, they could ultimately decide the election, and some say, the fate of their republic.
With the election likely headed to a runoff between Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad later this month, both candidates will need to figure out a way to attract more female voters to win.