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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.
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.
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.
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
Brazilian Women's Confederation
Brazilian Women's Confederation
Municipal Government of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
Government of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil
Government of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil
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