Executive Coordinator, Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra
Champion since 2021
“In feminism, women are the best protectors of other women. And we believe that students are also the main people committed to the training of other students, of other girls like them.”
Protecting and ensuring the expansion of Black girls’ education rights in Brazil
About 71% of all out-of-school children in Brazil are Black. Racial discrimination, economic inequality and a lack of education policies implemented to advance their rights have created serious barriers to education access for Black students — especially girls. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges Black girls faced in Brazil; when schools closed, families expected girls to take on more domestic responsibilities, leading many of them to drop out. Today, many out-of-school Black girls in Brazil are at risk of never returning.
Aparecida Suelaine’s approach
As a Black woman growing up in São Paulo, Suelaine experienced racism and discrimination first-hand throughout her time in school. Now a prominent Black feminist activist, Suelaine has worked with the nonprofit Geledés since 2003 to fight racial discrimination in Brazil and ensure Black girls can go to school for 12 years. Central to her approach are initiatives that give Black girls in Brazil the tools they need to help one another return to — and stay in — school. “We believe in action among peers,” Suelaine shares. “In feminism, women are the best protectors of other women. And we believe that students are also the main people committed to the training of other students, of other girls like them.”
With her Malala Fund grant, Suelaine plans to train students to hold meetings with their peers where they can discuss the importance of education and encourage those who are out of school to reenrol. Alongside local organisations, Suelaine and Geledés will also lead efforts to track, monitor and advocate against the approval of laws that restrict Black students’ education rights and promote conservative actions in schools. Malala Fund’s grant will also help Suelaine and her team develop intersectional public policies to decrease racial inequality in São Paulo and surrounding areas.