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Women’s project minimizes negative impacts of COVID in Salvador

With support from CESE, the Collective of Women, Public Policies and Society provides support to women living in Salvador’s peripheral neighbourhoods

 

Women living in the neighbourhoods of Cajazeiras, Águas Claras, Periperi and Pernambués received support to cope with the most severe period of isolation and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.  Set up by the Collective of Women, Public Policies and Society (Coletivo Mulheres, Políticas Públicas e Sociedade: MUPPS), the project, called Women Connected in Movement to Minimize the Negative Impacts of COVID-19, provided assistance by distributing staple food baskets to 50 low-income women in these locations, aimed at reducing family hunger and providing basic necessities.

Funded by CESE’s Small Projects Programme, the collective prioritizes low-income, black women who live in low-income neighbourhoods in the city of Salvador, heads of households or those who have lost their jobs as a consequence of social isolation caused by COVID-19. The staple food basket included non-perishable food items, fruit and vegetables, and hygiene and cleaning products.

In addition to this, MUPPS ran a social media campaign to change attitudes, helping to prevent coronavirus infection and promoting good practices for adequate food washing.  Through the project, the collective organized, published and distributed a digital booklet about making the best use of food, tips about preventing viral diseases and self-care aimed at increased knowledge for women and their families about hygiene and preventative health in the COVID-19 context.

“The project included a strand for political and educational action and awareness raising, with live streaming events with female speakers who work directly in tackling COVID-19 and the preparation and distribution of a booklet called Learning about COVID-19 Prevention, which included simple recipes to strengthen the immune system and breathing exercises to improve respiratory capacity,” explained Maíse Silva, MUPPS Social Coordinator and member.

According to the activist, “the partnership with CESE enabled MUPPS to expand its partnerships with other institutions and women’s collectives.  In her words, the cooperation enabled a broad partnership for the My Cycle, My Life campaign – run nationally in October 2021 in partnership with seven female-led organizations – which tackles menstrual poverty; provided an invitation to participate in the Giving for Change Practice Community; and strengthened the work of the collective itself.

Women and Public Policy – Maíse confirmed that MUPPS projects are aimed at women. “We also seek to observe proportionality in terms of race, since the number of black women in Salvador is very significant.” During the pandemic, an important marker in the capital of Bahia was the decree published on 13 March 2020 by the Bahia State Government, putting the entire city of Salvador into social isolation, aimed at prevention and to protect the population from the high death rate caused by COVID-19 infection.

According to Maíse, “this act had negative economic consequences for women, particularly heads of households.  Especially black women, who live in the urban periphery and in low-income neighbourhoods, who live off informal labour or are underemployed, for whom it became impossible to rely on the monthly income that ensured their survival and that of their children.  Women were most affected by unemployment.”

Data from the Bahia Superintendence of Economic and Social Studies indicate that 53% of the unemployed in Salvador’s Metropolitan Region are female and 93% are black men or women.  These figures led to the desire for an intervention for female-headed households, given that, during that period, there was a frightening increase in the number of families headed by women who were unable to provide three meals a day.

The MUPPS Collective, a civil society coalition aimed at the defence of rights and political training for women, works with a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach proposing activities that help to overcome gender inequalities and promote freedom from the oppressions that involve women in order to have an objective impact on their material and political lives.

The collective was established in July 2019 with the aim of promoting a broad vision of women, providing evidence of their race, class, religion, culture, education, health, violence and diversity, understanding that it is not possible for individuals to overcome the conservative wave and the capitalist system, or to institute broad reforms in society on their own.