Major setback for female representation in Brazil

Marina Koren writes in the Atlantic about the exclusion of women from Cabinet as conservative Michel Temer takes over as interim President in Brazil:

Temer is the interim president of Brazil, put in office as the country’s legislature decides whether to impeach Rousseff, the leader of the center-left Workers Party (PT).

In his first days in the presidency, Temer has vowed to fight corruption and introduced measures to reduce the fiscal deficit as Brazil faces its worst recession in decades. He has also named a new cabinet of ministers that has attracted a lot of attention for what it’s missing: women.

All the ministers in the cabinet are men who identify as white, making Temer the first president since Ernesto Geisel, who served from 1974 to 1979, not to include women.

The reshuffling has cut the number of cabinet posts from 31 to 22, and unseated four female cabinet ministers, one of whom was the only Afro-Brazilian minister in the government, according to the AP.

But for supporters of PT, whose policies have for years promoted social justice and racial equality, Temer’s decision is troubling. The cabinet’s composition has raised concerns the new president seeks to make Brazil more conservative. His decision to eliminate the ministry of women, racial equality, and human rights and consolidate it into the justice ministry, as well as to merge the culture ministry into the education ministry, has only compounded their fears.

Temer’s critics point out his new cabinet is not representative of Brazil’s population, which is 51 percent female. But it is does mirror the makeup of the country’s congress, which has been about 90 percent male since 2003, and more than that in the years before. For advocates of women’s rights around the world, the new cabinet is a step backward, especially as it comes after Rousseff, before her precipitous decline, became Brazil’s first female president in 2010.