Growing up in Bomba do Hemetério, Paula faced challenges to her education, including economic difficulties, racism and low quality education. These hardships inspired her to pursue work in the social sector. For the past 18 years, Paula has worked with local education and activism organisations in Recife, Brazil. In 2019, Paula joined Centro Dom Helder Camara de Estudos e Ação Social (CENDHEC), an organisation that advocates for the rights of children and adolescents and mobilises civil society to take action in support of youth and the residents of largely populated settlements and quilombola communities.
With her Malala Fund grant, Paula will research gender discrimination at the nine public schools with the highest dropout rates in Camaragibe, Recife and Igarassu. CENDHEC will then publish its findings and use the data to convince local government officials to establish programmes to combat gender inequality in their schools. CENDHEC will also share its findings through public seminars, local media and digital campaigns.