By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than 10,000 black women marched against racism and violence in the capital of Brazil, Brasília on Wednesday, days before many Brazilian cities are celebrating Black Awareness Day on Friday, November 20th. Many marchers also came to speak out against legislation which would hinder the livelihood of blacks and other minorities in general.

More than 10,000 marchers went to Brasilia for the 1st Black Women's March, Brazil
More than 10,000 marchers went to Brasilia for the 1st Black Women’s March, photo by Marcello Casal/Agencia Brasil.

“What is occurring today is not a demonstration in 2015, but a historic demonstration demanding equality in gender and race,” twenty-eight year old geography student Tais Teles told Agencia Brasil.

Teles, who came in a caravan from São Paulo state said black women need to fight for their rights. “We know from several survey institutes that black women are placed in an inferior category (in Brazil).”

Not only are they treated like second-class citizens, say activists, but violence towards the group is very high. The latest Brazilian Census, from 2010, shows that black women make up 25.5 percent of the Brazilian population and is the group with the largest number of victims of violent crimes in the country.

According to the Mapa da Violencia 2015 (Violence Map) developed by UNESCO, Flasco (Latin American Social Sciences Institute) and the Brazilian government murder reports of black women in Brazil grew by 54.2 percent between 2003 and 2013.

Congressional representative Janete Capiberibe was at the march to fight against the discrimination of black women but also to criticize a Constitutional Amendment bill which would transfer to congress the decision of demarcations of indigenous land and quilombos, communities of escaped black slaves set up in the 17th century and still present today.

President Rousseff meets with UN Women representative, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News, Brasília
President Rousseff meets with UN Women representative, photo by Roberto Stuckert/Presidency Press.

However the bill’s critics say if the power of decision is given to congress, large areas waiting to be demarked as indigenous reservations or quilombos would return to rich, white landowners and farmers.

During the afternoon a fight broke out between marchers and pro-impeachment activists in front of Brazil’s Congress and two police officers were arrested after firing their guns in the air. According to Agencia Brasil some women at the march tried to take down an inflatable doll from pro-impeachment protesters, when a police officer who was with the anti-Rousseff group fired shots into the air.

President Dilma Rousseff’s press office stated that Rousseff congratulated the movement and with the thousands of women from around the country who marched. “We have the responsibility to improve our policies that promote racial equality and combat violence,” said Rousseff on social media.

According to President’s press officers, Rousseff noted that the fight against racism, violenceand social and gender inequality is on the government’s agenda. “I reaffirmed our commitment in the fight against racism, against violence and the guarantee of rights and opportunities to black women,” stated Rousseff.

After meeting with the march’s organizers, President Rousseff met with United Nations sub-secretary and executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who also attended the march. Brazil has been elected to preside over the next edition of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2016 in New York.

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