Lecture to examine former leader and women’s rights in Brazil

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September 30, 2020

Pedro dos Santos

Pedro dos Santos

From a young age, Pedro dos Santos was exposed to the complex world of politics in Brazil. With a mother that worked in the federal government, he often heard stories of her male-dominated workplace and began to ask questions.

That is why dos Santos was intrigued when Dilma Rousseff was elected president of Brazil in 2010. She has become an integral part of his research on gender and politics in Latin America ever since.

Dos Santos will present some of that research in his webinar presentation “Women’s Empowerment and Disempowerment in Brazil in the 21st Century” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 via Zoom (a link will be provided about a week before the event).

His talk is part of the fall 2020 series “Race, Gender and Power in Latin America,” and is sponsored by the Latino/Latin American Studies Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.

As the first woman president of Brazil, Rousseff’s presidency was monumental. However, it was not all smooth sailing. Her time as the leader of Brazil was full of ups and downs - from her election as president in 2010 and re-election in 2014, to being impeached in 2016.

Dos Santos will discuss how that presidency and subsequent downfall impacted Brazilian politics and the view of women in the country. Ultimately, the talk will examine how Rousseff both succeeded in and failed to empower women in Brazil as its first female president.

An associate professor of political science at CSB/SJU, dos Santos teaches Comparative Politics and International Relations. In addition, he continues to research representation in relation to gender and politics in Brazil and Latin America and has published many book chapters and articles on these subjects.

In addition to his mother’s experiences in government, dos Santos’ family was active in politics and social movements. He saw firsthand how male-dominated the political system was and how hard it was for women to hold positions of power. Courses taken in both undergraduate and graduate school helped him hone that interest.

Also cultivating dos Santos’ interest in the subjects was his experience in Brazil in 2010. He was conducting fieldwork in the country when he attended the Worker’s Party convention that confirmed Rousseff as its presidential candidate.

“Experiencing the election unfold in real-time and then seeing a woman be elected president in a country with one of the lowest levels of women’s representation in all other branches of government was puzzling,” he said.

That puzzle still intrigues dos Santos today. He is currently working on a co-authored book-length project examining the impact the presidency of Rousseff on women’s representation and empowerment in Brazil.