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Abstract

Dilma Rousseff is the first woman elected head of state of Brazil. Although her election carries symbolism for Brazilian women, claims of women's emancipation through representation must be questioned through an analysis of the Brazilian patriarchal state. This paper examines the claim that Rousseff’s election opens doors for all Brazilian women. The research involves analysis of electoral statistics, media frames, and government documents, which show that, in spite of a woman president, women's representation in Brazilian government is still low in numbers and in the state agenda. The literature suggests that masculine gender hegemony and the presence of a patriarchal state undermine the creation of possibilities through women’s political representation. Rousseff’s weak campaign positions on gender issues indicate that her election’s potential for substantive representation is still limited.

Note on the Author

Sabrina Fernandes has a Master’s degree in Political Economy from Carleton University. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Sociology, also at Carleton. Her research interests include Brazilian politics, development and underdevelopment, gender issues, and education.

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