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The Brazilian Experience of Team Work to Mothers Head of Families
Brazil

Keywords: Women & Gender equality
Social Exclusion/Integration

Background

Brazil, in spite of having a developing economy with a high level of industrialization, presents serious distortions in economic and social aspects. The housing deficit in our country amounts to 12 million houses. The project Team Work to Mothers Head of Families is headed towards unwed mothers, divorced or widows, illiterate or semi-illiterate, without professional training with salaries that vary up to two minimum salaries (160 US$). With no access to social rights they fight to bring up their children.


Narrative

The system of team work to build houses has proved itself as efficient in the fight against the housing deficit, specially the experience (unedited and pioneer) that was accomplished by the CMB (Brazilian Women's Conference) that guarantees to the mothers head of families the access to their own houses.

Coming from slum tenement houses, "favelas" (group of very poor and small houses), rented houses, located in bottom of valleys or degraded places, the women were called to join the team work to build their houses. Today they live in a "conjunto habitacional" (a group of houses built in order to form a community) which have the following substructure: water, sewage system, paved streets, schools, health units and day nurseries among other improvements. It amounts to 11.000 the number of families, with mothers as heads, which receive these benefits.

Both solidarity and union, which are developed during the building of the houses, are essential factors to achieve the aims and objectives of each stage. The constant improvement of the environment where they live, providing them with the necessary social equipment and substructure, is a result of the women's action, who organize themselves in feminine associations. The solidarity comes up in the help of the affiliated women who do not take part in the team work and who help the others by looking after their children, when they go the work pit.

Besides getting their own house, improving their standard of living, the women find out their potential and their capacity. Many of them conclude the work by obtaining any degree of professionalism: today they are carpenters, electricians, joiners, etc. Thanks to specific programmes developed by CMB many of these women learn to read and write, are trained to work as health community agents who take part in the local health councils; or even they have another kind of training.

Summing up, the women are able to buy their piece of land and house at a reasonable price. The houses have drinkable water and drainage and the women develop the community spirit and are able to achieve a greater social integration.

The work itself follows the steps described below.
1. Enrollment
a) the Women's Associations enroll the affiliated families.
b) priority criteria: mothers head of families, greater number of small children, employed with a salary up to two minimum salaries (U$ 160) and affiliated to the Women's Association.
2. Land necessary for the programme
a) the leaders of the Women's Associations make a survey to find out which pieces of land, that belong to the government, are not being used and that have the ideal conditions to more houses. The chosen ones are presented to the government sectors which are involved in the programme.
3. The work pit
a) The work pit has an internal code which defines the rules, which are:
* the building of the houses will happen on weekends and holidays, from 8.00am to 5.00pm in the system of team work;
* only the chosen affiliated and a volunteer will be allowed at the work pit. She will be the owner of the house.
* the general coordination of the work pit is the role of a community agent.
b) the settlement of the work pit with minimal substructure: a shed for storing materials, toilets, a dressing room, a kitchen, an infirmary and an office;
c) the qualification of the women, who are the majority in the work pit, happens in schools which are in the work pit itself. There the women learn to be carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, locksmiths, etc., and are also instructed about work safety. This qualification also helps the professionalization of these women.
d) the chosen affiliated are organized in teams, and in each team there is a woman responsible for each building section;
e) the houses are distributed by raffle among the affiliated women;
f) the beginning and finish of the first programme, when 1.154 houses were built, took a whole year.

At the same time that the work in the work pit progresses, the CMB develops activities with the women involved in the team work aiming the improvement of their life conditions. It is the case of a programme for teaching reading and writing and a profession to women young and adult (a result of an accord with the federal government), the classes happen in the work pit itself. The same happens with courses for training communitarian agents of health, the campaigns for the prevention of breast cancer and womb cancer and other sanitary measures. The CMB also puts into practice programmes of food supplementation like the distribution of milk to mothers who are breast feeding and children up to 6 years old, distribution of food which is exceeding in the government stocks, and the purchase of food which are essential to survival (e.g. rice, sugar, flour, oil, etc.) at lower prices.

The work of the associations in the elaboration of courses and campaigns is both continuous and persistent, this being the reason for the significant achievement and the support of various sectors of society. This support essential, both in terms of finances once the requests are always becoming bigger, as in terms of engagement of all in the fight of women's rights.

Finally the team work proves itself as a solid alternative both solidary and collective to face and solve a problem like the one of housing, specially, in our case, in dealing with families who have women as head.


Impact

  • 11.000 houses were built
  • 55.000 people are given this benefit
  • 44.000 homeless children now have homes
  • 4.700 mothers head of families can now read and write
  • 3.800 mothers head of families are studying
  • 1.200 children receive professional training
  • 900 mothers head of families get professional training
  • 2.000 mothers head of families are now working
  • 50% of the final cost of the building was reduced

Sustainability

The Brazilian Women's Confederation, since l988, has been trying to cope with the serious distortions in the economic and social aspects that affect our reality and also to call the attention of our society to the serious social consequences that they carry. It is by means of mobilization of its affiliated women, of educational campaigns and press divulgation that the CMB tries to make the government authorities aware of the necessity of having social programmes directed to these women who take over the role of head of families.
It is the case of the programme of building houses by means of team work for mothers head of families, that the CMB develops through accords with the Federal, State and Municipal governments. The accords do not always have the participation of the three levels of government. The first team work, that started in 1988, was the result of an accord with the Federal government and the Municipal government from the city of Sao Paulo. The other accords in the State of Sao Paulo were made with the State government of Sao Paulo and were financed by money which came from part of the state budget through the "Imposto de Circulacao de Mercadorias e Servicos - ICMS" (a tax which is charged on goods and services), which is specifically destined to the housing programmes of social interest.
The CMB has taken part actively in the fight to create a law that gives part of the budget of ICMS to popular housing in the State of Sao Paulo. Today this law that gives 1% of the collection of ICMS to popular housing, team work among them, is reality in many other Brazilian states. This law is annually renewed with the essential support of the Legislative Assembly, thus with the essential support of the state deputies.
In the team work programme the government sectors take part being responsible by donating the land, the substructure (water, light, drainage and pavement) and the money for buying the building materials. The CMB, through the state federations of women and the women's
associations, takes part as responsible by the accomplishment of the work.


Contact

    Brazilian Women's Confederation
    Rua Gualachos,118 Aclimacao
    Sao Paulo
    Sao Paulo
    Brazil
    01533-020
    55(11)2515550 / 2840907
    fax 55(11)2841498

Sponsor

    Brazilian Women's Confederation
    Rua Gualachos, 118 Aclimacao
    Sao Paulo
    Sao Paulo
    Brazil
    01533-020
    55 (11)2515550 / 55(11)2840907
    fax 55(11)2841498

Partners

    Municipal Government of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
    Campos, Rosanita
    Rua Gualachos,118 Aclimacao
    Sao Paulo
    Sao Paulo
    Brazil
    01533-020
    55(11)2515550 / 2840907
    fax 55(11)2841498

    Government of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil
    Campos, Marcia
    Rua Gualachos,118 Aclimacao
    Sao Paulo
    Sao Paulo
    Brazil
    01533-020
    55(11)2515550 / 2840907
    fax 55(11)2841498

    Government of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil
    Abreu, Leila
    Rua Gualachos,118 Aclimacao
    Sao Paulo
    Sao Paulo
    Brazil
    01533-020
    55(11)2515550 / 2840907
    fax 55(11)2841498


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