Black women march in São Paulo in 2016. PHOTO: Tuane Fernandes-Mídia NINJA

Seventy-five years ago, in 1943, the CLT prohibited paying men and women different wages for the same work. Did you know that? I am not. Neither did Bolsonaro, he who opposed, in the interview with Globo News, any legal measure that forbids discrimination between men and women. Article 461 of the CLT has been changed over the years – in 1952 the prohibition to discriminate by nationality or age was added, in 2017 (and only in 2017!) the prohibition to distinguish by ethnicity – but it is not enforced. Worse, those who are in favor, like me, don't know that it exists, and those who are against it, like candidate Bolsonaro, don't either.

There is, however, a sure way to make it a living letter, as well as to nip in the bud most of the discrimination against women, blacks, indigenous people. It undergoes a major shift in focus: moving from affirmative action to power struggle.

I have always been in favor of quotas, but we lose sight when we limit ourselves to multiplying the places where they should be implemented. We went from bottom to top. The best thing is to achieve gender and ethnic equality, exactly in the center of power designed for proportionality: in the Chamber of Deputies.

How will we have half the women in the House? In Brazil, we elect deputies by proportional vote. They must represent the diversity of opinions existing in the country. It is enough to introduce the closed list, which makes it possible to guarantee the balance of gender and ethnicity in the Chamber – as well as in the Legislative Assemblies and Municipal Chambers. In the closed list, the voter votes for the party already knowing the order of candidates who will be elected. Therefore, if the party gets enough votes for five deputies, they will be the top five on the list.

We just need to amend the electoral law – that's all – and determine that the names of men and women should be alternated on the list. (I'll talk about blacks later). Thus, if a party heads its list with a man, all even numbers on the list will be women (and the odd numbers will be men). Or vice versa.

This measure will practically result in parity. About half of those elected will be women.

What will that mean? Current law requires each party to present a third of women on its list, but many are there just for the English to see. They are not voted on, they are not elected. Now, if they alternate with men on the candidate lists, they will have power – and the parties will choose the best, of course, not just extras.

Imagine the result. We will never again hear a president say that women are important to the country because they compare prices in supermarkets… Nor will there be leniency with femicide and hate crimes against them. Machismo will have its days numbered. Salaries will tend to be equal for the same function and with the same productivity and technical perfection (I copy here article 461 of the CLT).


The same rule can be applied to the so-called ethnic minorities, which are around 50% of the population – a little less, if we think only of Afro-descendants, a little more, if we include indigenous people and those descended from them.

If we have half of the deputies among African and indigenous descendants, police invasions of favelas will end. The black will no longer serve as a target for shooting exercises. The double standard of police approach – gentle in rich neighborhoods, aggressive in poor ones – will disappear. More importantly: the quality of life, employment opportunities, positions in society gradually – but not to lose sight of! – will be closer together. We will achieve equality of opportunity, the hallmark of a decent society.


The difficult thing, of course, is to combine the two rules, that is, to establish election quotas for both women and blacks. I don't have a ready formula. In fact, what I intend here is to put the topic under discussion. We cannot expect the mere passing of time to promote the real equality of our countrymen. Who waits, never reaches! says a contradicto, truer than mere expectation.

Brazil is very late. In Canada, when current premier Justin Trudeau took office, he was asked why there were half women: “Because it's 2015,” he replied. This, a few months before Temer took office, without any women (either black or indigenous). In Colombia, the new president – ​​conservative – these days appointed his cabinet, also with half of women. In Spain, the current left-wing ministry has more women than men. Conservatives in Colombia, progressives in Spain take the same rights agenda.

In the meantime, we continue to limp. We need to change this scenario decisively. Of course, in this election it is no longer possible. Such a measure has to be discussed. But it's time to put it on the Brazilian agenda.

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