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Mulheres de Si: Ensuring Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Via Mulher Organization / Dina Lopez

THE POWER OF CHOICE

Popular educator Dina Lopez has a long history of ancestral connection with her Orisha, Mother Oxum. The lady of the waters, a symbol of love, care and a powerful feminine energy, has always been at her side and strengthened her struggle, according to her. Dina was inspired by Oxum to design a program on Kirimurê TV, Salvador's first citizens’ channel. When she conceived “Conversa de Preta”, a successful show in the city, she knew what she wanted: to make these 'invisible' women visible. “It was time to give women a voice and an opportunity,” she says. Oxum, in her ear, is the one who whispered guidance. "As a good daughter, I just obey," she jokes.

“At Conversa de Preta we bring women who are invisible both in their neighborhoods and in the mainstream media. It is women who help the communities, sometimes taking money out of their own pockets. All I want is for them to see each other. I want women to recognize each other”, says Dina.

At 55, Dina Lopes knows well what invisibility is, because, for a long time, she was there. The experience of suffering gender inequality and racism herself has made her open the way, between social movements, to fight and be visible. Somehow, she is also part of the mirror that she wants to reveal. “When I have visibility, I enable other women to have it. I bring them with me when I stand up”, she explains.

And if I had another life, I would want to be a woman again.”

The idea of submitting a communication project in response to the Ela Decide Call for Projects, supported by the United Nations Population Fund in partnership with the Elas Fund, was implemented through a joint effort with the organization of which Dina is part, Via Mulher. With the project, listening and giving voice, the educator and presenter of the show has deepened the discussion about freedom for the body and freedom of choice. “We, women, do not need to be subjected to any model, only if we want to. A woman does not have to exist only to marry and have children. If she wants to, fine. But society cannot impose it upon her. We have to remember to use this power; the power to decide about our own lives”, she reaffirms.

Dina likes to think of herself as an energy that is never depleted, but renewed. Like the water in the waterfall that falls and purifies. Fighting for what you want, according to her, is an everyday action. And her own nature preserves her intuition and strength, like the Orisha that accompanies her. “When my people were kidnapped from Africa, they brought with them all their gods and goddesses, I inherited this feminine energy from my ancestors. I like being a woman”, she says. “And if I had another life, I would want to be a woman again.”

Project: Mulheres de Si: Ensuring Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Location:Salvador/BA

People directly benefited by the project: 200 women and 12 men.

Via Mulher Organization, through the project, has developed a TV show segment for the local Public TV (channel 10.2), as part of the Conversa de Preta Program, on the Citizenship Channel of Salvador /Kirimurê Tv, reaching more than 3 million people. The purpose of the segment was to discuss topics related to women's sexual and reproductive health. In addition, with the arrival of the pandemic, the group supported other organizations in the distribution of staple food baskets to women in vulnerable situations.

Photography: Carol Garcia / Writer: Fabiane Guimarães e Rachel Quintiliano / Editor-in-chief: Rachel Quintiliano / Content review and approach: Anna Cunha, Juliana Soares and Michele Dantas / Artwork and Composition: Diego Soares

This story is part of the publication “Driving Force: stories and actions undertaken by women and for women in Bahia”, that shows the result of a partnership between the United Nations Population Fund and the Elas Fund to support projects led by women residing in the Brazilian State of Bahia, who work to promote actions involving training and information on sexual, reproductive health and rights. To learn more about the project and other stories, visit brazil.unfpa.org/forcamotriz