Brazilian, Feminist Non-Governmental Organisations - a Force for Change: Constructing Citizenship through Health Sector Reform and Delivery of Reproductive Rights

Allen-Early, Stephanie (2004). Brazilian, Feminist Non-Governmental Organisations - a Force for Change: Constructing Citizenship through Health Sector Reform and Delivery of Reproductive Rights. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00007cfa

Abstract

This thesis examines the role Brazilian feminist institutions - NGOs and the National Council for Women’s Rights, created in the transitional period from dictatorship to democracy (1985-95) to represent the mass social movement of women - have played in transition politics, where their aim has been to invoke the notion of ‘citizenship’ to address marginality and instigate constitutional change to deliver health services to women.

The methodological framework is the Extended Case Study Method (Burawoy 1991, 2000), which draws on different and complementary ethnographic research traditions. Interviews with leaders of Brazil’s mass women’s movement, as well as with government officials and a leader of the Popular Movement for Health, provide data which give an account of the overall political context of the governance of that period and the constitutional process whereby, as civil society bodies, feminist institutions acted at the macro level of state policy in the public health sector, as well as at the micro, local level in their communities.

Theories used to interpret data include Social Movement Theory of Latin America, which analyses processes arising from transitional periods following repressive military dictatorship and include: a) the emergence, characteristics and organisation of social movements; b) how the discourse of human rights relates to the notion of citizenship; c) the role of feminism in démocratisation. Also examined are participatory approaches to international development including the contribution made by NGOs in development processes.

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