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  • President Jair Bolsonaro (C) and his staff at Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 28, 2019.

    President Jair Bolsonaro (C) and his staff at Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 28, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 May 2019

Through a social security reform, the Brazilian far-right seeks to reduce protections for pregnant women and shorten maternity leave period.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro proposed an amendment that alters Article 201 of the Constitution, which guarantees protection to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, the Worker's Party (PT) Congressman Alexandre Padilha said during public hearing on the impact of the social security reform bill which was held in Sao Paulo.

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 Jesus Souza, a social security specialist, noted, "Bolsonaro administration’s proposal, which eliminates Constitution guarantees for pregnant women, is an unmeasurable wickedness. Women already have all sorts of difficulties, they have lower wages and when they return from maternity leave most of them are dismissed."

According to a Getulio Vargas Foundation survey, 48 percent of Brazilian women lose their jobs within 12 months after returning from maternity leave. 

“Fall in employment rates starts immediately after the four-months employment protection period,” Cecilia Machado, an labor economist writes.

“After 24 months, almost half of women taking maternity leave are out of the job market, a pattern that is perpetuated even 47 months after the leave,” says Machado.

 A mid-May media poll revealed that 85 percent of Brazilians did not know the administration's attempt to eliminate a pregnant mother’s constitutional guarantees for maternity leave, but 87 percent of them responded they were against such a proposal.

"At Bolsonaro's planet, earth is flat, mothers buy phallic-like baby bottles and teachers distribute gay kits."

While these policies changes are being presented as measures to create jobs, they will likely undermine the situation of most Brazilian women whose rights are not being respected.

"When children reach the age of five, mothers won't be able to receive anything from maternity subsidies,” a PT councilor in Sao Jose dos Campos, state of Sao Paulo, Amelia Naomi, said Monday at the hearing and explained that such measures are “part of scrapping policy."

Another public hearing to review the social security reform will be held on May 31 at the Republic Square in Sao Paulo. However, the deadline for voting in Congress is June 3.

Previously, former President Michel Temer (2016-2018), who took over office after the legislative coup d'etat against former leftist President Dilma Rousseff, approved a labor reform that makes it possible to permit pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to do 'unhealthy' activities, except when give a doctor's note.

 

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