Bamidelê: Paraíba Black Women’s Organization
Affirmative Action in public institutions of higher learning: in defense of racial quotas in Paraíba
The organization’s mission is to contribute to the elimination of racism and sexism, as well as to promote discussions and actions that strengthen the identity and self-esteem, especially of afro-descendant women. This culminates in the fight for the effective defense and realization of human rights.
Some of the tasks carried out by the organization are: the development and implementation of strategies for combating the mechanisms of production and reproduction of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination and discrimination on the grounds of gender and sex; the monitoring of public policies; and the implementation of educational activities, health fairs and actions of political strengthening with afro-descendant women and quilombo communities.
Bamidelê has participated in the debates on affirmative action policies in Paraíba. In 2009 it was partners with the rectory of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB) for the holding of the seminar “Quotas in UFPB? A necessary debate.” In 2010 it attended the Public Hearing on the policy of racial quotas of the Federal University of Brasília at the Supreme Court in Brasília and held a workshop for social movements regarding public reasoning on the issue.
With the support of Brazil Fund for the project, the organization develops advocacy strategies aimed at implementing a policy of racial quotas in public universities in Paraíba. The goals are to participate in the discussion process for the implementation of this policy; to contribute to the strengthening of the afro-descendant movement and social movements in Paraíba in defense of the quotas; and to broaden the public debate about affirmative action policies with society in Paraíba.
In addition to attending meetings, rounds of conversation and seminars on the topic, the group creates means of communication and participates in public demonstrations in defense of the quotas.
In Paraíba 63% of the population is made up of afro-descendants – PNAD, 2007 – however, as in the rest of the country, this majority is not represented in public universities in the state. No policy of racial quotas guarantees the access of the afro-descendant population to higher education. Only 24.1% of students at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB) are afro-descendant, and only 9.8% of those graduated in public schools.
In 2008, when 73% of Brazilian higher education institutions had adopted racial-ethnic affirmative actions (“Manifesto em Defesa da Cotas”, 2008), the project of racial quotas at UFPB was defeated in the Board of Higher Education, Research and Extension. Due to the recommendation of prosecutors in Paraíba (Recommendation No. 19/2009), the project was resumed so that the institution would manifest a position on the issue.
The system of racial quotas in UFPB can contribute to redress racial inequalities as well as to trigger similar processes in other institutions of higher education.
Bamidelê’s partners in those actions are: the Organized Afro-Descendant Movement in Paraíba, the Center for Afro-Descendant Students/UFPB, the Special Commission for the Implementation of Racial Quotas in UFPB, the Study and Research Group on History of the Twentieth Century – CCHLA/UFPB, and the women’s movement.
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