Updated 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Women social empowerment against economy?

This new fertility rate is below the replacement level that a population needs in order to remain stable.

And this is not only due to the fact that in Brazil, well-off and career women have stopped having large families. There is the idea that rural areas and favelas remain overcrowded because women give birth after child, but this is not true. In the demographic center that Carvalho helped found, in Belo Horizonte, researchers have detected the same trend in all classes and regions of the country. During the weeks that I was interviewing with Brazilians, I spoke with teachers, garbage pickers, architects, journalists, clerks, cleaners, students and women who had spent their adolescence on the street; And practically all said that a modern Brazilian family should include two children, if possible a couple, considered the ideal family. Three would be almost impossible. One could be enough. In a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte, an 18-year-old single girl watched in love with her child, entertained by a toy truck; She loved him very much, she said, but she was not going to have any more children. The expression he used had already heard her say to other women: "The factory is closed." The factory is closed.

The steep decline in fertility is not a Brazilian phenomenon alone. Despite the concern about the demographic increase of the planet, about half the world population lives in countries with fertility rates that are actually below those of replacement, the level in which a couple has only the number of children Just to replace them: just over two per family. Birth rates have fallen sharply in most of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa.

For demographers seeking to understand the causes and consequences of this surprising trend, what has happened in Brazil since the 1960s is one of the most fascinating case studies in the world. Brazil has enormous regional differences in terms of geography, race and culture, but its population data have always stood out by exhaustive and reliable.

Meeting with women under 35 who have undergone surgical sterilization is common in Brazil. "I had the first baby at 18; I wanted to plant myself, but the second came by surprise, and now I'm getting ready, "the clerk of a craft shop in Recife told me. He was 28 years old; She had her tubes tied at age 26, and when I asked her why she had opted for an irreversible contraceptive method when she was so young, she reminded me of the second child, who came by carelessly. The contraceptive pill made her fat and sick, she said. And if he had not heard her correctly, he repeated: she was planting herself.

But why two? Why not four? Why not eight like your grandmother? The answer was always the same: "Impossible! Too expensive! Too much work!".

It is a volatile terrain, that of Brazil and women. Machismo means the same in Brazilian Portuguese as in Spanish in the rest of the continent, and has been linked to the high levels of domestic violence and other physical aggressions against women registered in the country. But the nation experienced a profound alteration with the women's movement, the feminist movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and no American is now in a position to relegate Brazil as retrograde on gender equality issues. When President Dilma Rousseff came to the polls last year, the most vehement national debates revolved around her political ideas and loyalties, but did not question whether the nation was prepared to have a woman in command for the first time.

In Brazil there are military women among high ranking officers, special police stations run by and for women, as well as the most famous soccer player in the world (the ballet master known simply as Marta). When I spent an afternoon in the city of Campinas with Aníbal Faúndes, a Chilean obstetrics professor who co-ordinated national studies on reproductive health, Faúndes came back again and again on what he considers the primary force for fertility change in his country. adoption. "The fertility rate fell because the women decided they did not want any more children," he explained. Brazilians have tremendous strength. It's all because they decided it, and then they found the means to get it. "

In 1988 most of the public health centers at that time did not offer family planning services, and when a woman feels compelled to regulate her fertility, even if services are deficient and information is scarce, she will manage to ask someone What you can do. And information is bound to circulate. "

In 1991 the Brazilian government had restricted its use; Today it is only dispensed in hospitals, although several women assured me that they can still be obtained. Although public health today finances sterilizations and other methods of birth control, illegal abortions remain the order of the day, ranging from the medically reliable to the frightening. Guaranteeing the limitation of the offspring may not be quite easy and safe for a Brazilian, but the truth is that there are few means to achieve it.

Petterle founded a company dedicated to sales research focused on Brazilian women, whose consumption habits and vital priorities seem to have taken a 180-degree turn since she was born. Until 1977, she reminded me, divorce was not legalized in Brazil. "We've made a dizzying change," he said. Today we know that for many young people, the number one priority is their education. The second, his profession. And third is the children and a stable relationship. "

So raising children has not disappeared from the list of priorities of young women, Petterle said: what happens is that he has lost positions on that list, it is no longer the most important, and now it is more difficult than ever to combine that facet with Other objectives that the woman has drawn.

It would be a gross simplification to say that Brazilians now have fewer children just because they want to spend more on them. But the issue of material acquisitions (the price of things, and how much people want to buy them) is of interest and concern to almost all women. It is said that reducing the size of families contributes to the promotion of emerging economies, especially the BRICS, an acronym used in international economics to refer to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together. However, national economic growth does not translate into guarantees of family well-being, unless that prosperity is managed wisely and invested in future generations.