A group of women scientists is starting the Brazilian network of women scientists this Monday (19) looking for an impact on public policy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are scientists who, according to CNPq, are still underrepresented in Brazilian universities and research institutes, and at this very dramatic moment, which even affects our scientific productions, we are trying to defend women from a perspective that seeks attention to something which has been practically ignored in the public debate: the state of Brazilian women in the pandemic, “reads the group’s letter of intent.
Reports of violence among women increased during the pandemic – which the letter underscores. In addition to this violence, which is generally spoken and more explicit, there is a general precariousness, says Flávia Biroli, professor of political science at the UnB and a member of the network.
According to Biroli, one of the most serious problems in the current situation is the sharp decline in the labor force participation of women, which, according to Ipea (Institute for Applied Economic Research), is the lowest in 30 years.
IBGE’s Pnad Contínua points out that 8.5 million women left the labor force in the third quarter of 2020 (latest data) compared to the same period in 2019, i.e. before the pandemic. As a result, more than half of women aged 14 and over have been excluded from the labor market – labor force participation was 45.8%, a decrease of 14% from 2019.
“We can’t help but get involved,” says Biroli. One of the ideas of the group is to act with technical-scientific advice with public representatives, thinking of the legislature and local power, especially considering that federal power, mainly in the figure of President Jair Bolsonaro (without Party), often ignoring available scientific knowledge.
“We understand that there are different paths. One of them is the importance of dialogue with the frontline community managers. In their case, there is often no lack of willingness to act, but there may be a lack of technical staff,” says Biroli.
Brazil has not responded adequately to the pandemic, says Karina Calife, a sanitary doctor and professor at the Santa Casa de São Paulo medical faculty and member of the Brazilian network of women scientists.
“The voice of the women scientists who started this pandemic was heard less than it should be,” says Calife.
With this, the group intends to take a special look at public policies that can help with the problems women face, including the significant part that is part of health professionals such as employment, housing, adequate nutrition, as well as sexual ones and reproductive health.
In the opening letter, the chain also reminds of the particularly fragile situation of black women, the poor and those living on the outskirts. It also mentions the current sensitive condition of pregnant women, a group that has recorded a mortality rate in Brazil that is attracting attention in relation to that documented in the rest of the world.
“At this time of humanitarian crisis, there is no public action to support women and girls,” the document says. “It is necessary to demand that the Brazilian state fulfill its role. And it has to fulfill its role from a gender perspective.”
To continue this comprehensive plan to create an effective agenda for the pandemic, the group already has at least 1,500 researchers who have signed the memorandum of understanding.