But, after all, what does this day represent?
This day is much more than a tribute to all women. It represents the struggle and the political and social achievements of women for fundamental rights, such as the right to vote. Today, we celebrate the importance of the fight for Women's Rights and honor the courage and determination of women who changed the course of history and deserve to be remembered.
Women's Day forces us to reflect on the fact that the rights we have today were conquered by others before us – Women (yes, with a W) who did not give up, who fought, who paved the way for new possibilities and fairer lives.
International Women's Day was only officially proclaimed by the United Nations in 1975, and it was not until 1979 that the Convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women was approved. These relatively recent achievements are proof that we cannot resign ourselves to injustices and that we must, not only celebrate this day, but also debate and encourage change in a society that still has a lot to evolve.
We still have a long way to go, but we believe that when two women get together, extraordinary things happen. Imagine what would happen if all the women in the world came together and fought, together, for their rights...! Today, we highlight, with much affection and admiration, 12 Portuguese women who are excellent at what they do, who deserve to be recognized for their work, for their struggles, for truly representing what it is that Feminism means, in 2021.
Photo: Photo restored by João Pena Fonseca for the Guarda Museum
We couldn't make a list of inspiring women (and there were so many we could mention!) without highlighting Carolina Beatriz Ângelo, one of the first voices of Feminism in Portugal and a woman who fought hard for the emancipation of Portuguese women.
Carolina was part of the group of women who founded the Republican League of Portuguese Women, was involved in the founding of the Association of Feminist Propaganda, which she also directed, and projected the creation of a school for nurses as part of the fight for women's emancipation.
Beatriz Ângelo was also the first woman to vote in Portugal. The law stated that "all citizens over the age of 21, heads of household, who could read and write" could play an active role in the country's political life and, at the age of 33, Carolina was a widow with a daughter in her care (which made her the head of household), and a doctor (which implied not only being able to read and write, but also having higher education). Invoking in court her right to be considered "head of household," she fought for women's suffrage in the constituent elections and justice spoke louder (even though, after the 1910 elections, the Law added that only "male heads of household" could vote).
With a hospital and a school named after her, Carolina made a positive mark on Portuguese History and, in 2020, she also lent her name to Josefinas and inspired us to create two bags that represent female empowerment, her courage, and her strength.
We travel to our time and celebrate the work and mission of our Catarina Furtado, who fights for Gender Equality, Education, and Justice. We got to know her because she is one of the faces of Portuguese television, but the truth is that her work and dedication go far beyond that world of lights and cameras.
Catarina uses her voice and channels to speak out on the ugly realities that are often hidden and dedicates her time to helping those who need it most. Author of children's stories and song lyrics, her concern for future generations and families struggling to survive is undeniable. Her association, Corações com Coroa, is a non-profit organization that aims to promote a culture of solidarity and inclusion among people in situations of vulnerability, risk, and poverty.
She fights daily for what she believes in, and it is through the program she presents, Príncipes do Nada (Princes of Nowhere), she brings attention to the dramatic reality experienced in many underdeveloped countries and other places where inequalities are still drastic. A UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and a great inspiration for Josefinas, Catarina is a Power Woman of today and has done a great (giant!) job in the fight for Human Rights.
We feel that sportswomen still have little stage in communication channels and, therefore, not only because this woman is an example for us, but also as a tribute to all sportswomen who train daily to achieve results and show that gender is not a determining criterion, today we highlight Patrícia Mamona. An athlete who has taken Portugal's name across borders and who has shown us that despite the inequalities that still exist in sport and among athletes, consistency, hard work and dedication make all the difference.
Did you know that this strong Portuguese woman won the gold medal and set a new national record in the women's triple jump at the European Athletics Championships? It took place in 2016, in Amsterdam, and Patrícia Mamona jumped 14.58 meters! In the same year, at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she achieved the best classification ever in the Portuguese women's triple jump, with a jump of 14.65 meters.
You can't help but admire this Power Woman, who with such a rigorous and demanding career, managed to get a scholarship to study Medicine at the age of 17 (eventually having to choose between Medicine and Athletics) and still finds time to pass on to the younger ones the importance of effort and sacrifice. How can we not highlight Patrícia Mamona on a day when we celebrate what has been achieved by women? Impossible!
Branca Edmée Marques was a Portuguese scientist who played a decisive role in studies on radioactivity, radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry.
A disciple of Marie Curie (another great woman who showed the world what she is capable of!), she obtained her PhD in Paris and, after being granted the equivalence of her title to the degree of "Doctorate in Physical-Chemical Sciences" in Portugal, she founded the country's first Radiochemistry Laboratory the following year, a predecessor of the Center for Radiochemistry Studies of the Nuclear Energy Studies Commission, of which she was director.
At the age of 65 - 12 years after qualifying for that position - she (finally!) became the first woman to hold the degree of professor of chemistry at a science faculty in Portugal. In Lisbon, since 2009, there is a street in the university city named after her, for all students to remember her importance in the understanding of the areas to which she dedicated herself. A true inspiration for all women in science (and beyond!).
In the art world there are several women who have stood out and shown their work in a transparent way, without prejudice or stigmas.
Margarida Fleming is one of the Women we highlight today, and the mind behind the works that captivate us and show us that all women are different and special – each of the faces Margarida creates in her paintings actually has a distinct essence that makes it unique and extraordinary. They are not just faces, they are women, stories, lives.
The proof of her dedication is precisely her art, which she developed on her own, learning techniques, exploring features, and testing color combinations. The result is in sight and is simply wonderful. Fascinating, even. Powerful messages are read in the eyes of the faces she paints, and the interpretations, which can be as many as the number of people trying to decipher them, are an excellent starting point for a discussion about what it is, then, to be a woman.
Daniela Seixas is a reference name in the world of entrepreneurship and is, also, an inspiration to all of us for her perseverance, for her will to make dreams come true, for helping health professionals, and for her successful path.
In 2015, Daniela decided it was time to swap the hospital corridors for an old passion that she developed while playing on her father's computer - technology. She left her specialty in neuroradiology to dedicate herself to a new project: a mobile application to help health professionals who don't read emails, helping to improve communication between hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies.
The path wasn't linear – despite having chosen a specialty that uses technology more often, Daniela was a doctor, did a PhD in Neurosciences and became a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto. However, there are passions that cannot be hidden, and the foundation of the Tonic App made her work on what she is really passionate about.
A Power Woman who deserves to be highlighted for helping to save lives by creating a project that has a direct impact on the quality of care and services provided to patients.
Photo: VOGUE Portugal
It is impossible to talk about Human Rights or Women's Rights without mentioning the minorities or the inequalities between ethnicities, countries, privileges or societies. In the same way, it is impossible to talk about Portuguese Feminists without mentioning Maria Gil.
Romani, actress, and activist, she has played a key role in the fight for equality. Through her roles and her active voice, Maria reminds us that, although we are all part of the group of women, within it there are still several communities that don’t have access to the same rights, privileges, respect or safety. In 2017, she took to a demonstration a poster with a phrase that captivated our attention - "Romani women exist and resist!" – which she wrote because, when she looked around, she realized that there were no other Romani women actively involved in the movement.
Romani sexism has a different visibility, because it is much less addressed by the voices that fight for Gender Equality, and to be a feminist is also to recognize that we do not all start on the same level, that privileges are accentuated in this fight, even if the ultimate goal is the existence of an indisputable equality, where all people, men or women, live without fear, discrimination, racism or insecurity. There is still a long way to go and hearing voices like Maria Gil's is always a step forward to adjust mentalities and create more empathy among us all.
Music plays a fundamental role in the dissemination and acceptance of ideologies, and Ana Fernandes, known as Capicua, has made her name on the Portuguese panorama thanks to her work.
Woman, rapper, graduated in Sociology, and feminist. No woman has only one facet and Capicua shows it with excellence. The singer is inspired by Portuguese poets and uses her voice to warn about the importance of Gender Equality, Feminism, and Justice. She considers herself a "militant rapper" and is known for her writing, emotive and powerful – Capicua is truly one of the voices of our times, and has distinguished herself by cultivating a feminist attitude in a world associated with men. Like Josefinas, Capicua believes that it is by shaping younger mindsets that you can truly make a difference, and that is also why she has created a children's music project that sets the tone for awakening younger minds.
There is no doubt that Capicua has contributed (a lot and well!) to the destruction of prejudices associated with Rap and to female empowerment, by encouraging, through her songs and actions, other women to build and define their own paths. On Women's Day, we highlight another Woman who sees her life as a way to fight for the lives and happiness of other women, regardless of name, age, skin color, religion or nationality. Congratulations, Ana!
Photo: Astolfi Studio
If you like the art that we find in the shop windows of the streets that are part of our everyday life or the trips we make, you'll like to meet (if you haven't already) Joana Astolfi, the artist-architect from Lisbon who travels the world and creates true works of art for luxury brand windows. Joana carries the name of Portugal and gives us one more reason to be proud of the talent that exists in the country.
Astolfi may not sound Portuguese – and is, in fact, an Italian family name, which she insists on celebrating because of the connection to her paternal grandmother – but Joana couldn't deceive. Portuguese, Brazilian, Italian... why not combine it all with her passion for art and architecture to get her hands dirty? It is this multiculturalism, this freedom and, of course, the artist's unique vision that makes us highlight her today. A woman who created, created once again, and never gave up. Who used her privilege to learn more, to do better, and to reach the level where we find her today – which makes so much sense! – with her own studio, a name we immediately recognize when it appears in the news, and a creativity that just keeps on growing.
Joana Astolfi is, without a doubt, an inspiration when it comes to the creation of concepts, the construction of superb installations, and the brilliance of objects with the most unlikely designs. A Woman who is not afraid to show who she is or to explore ideas that may seem crazy to others. A Power Woman.
Writer and activist, Natália Correia had a very important political role in the fight for Human Rights and Women's Rights. Her name is unfortunately not sufficiently mentioned internationally, but her role as a feminist is a great source of pride in Portugal. Including her on this list of 12 women we are sharing on this meaningful day is our way of honoring her and making sure that, one way or another, her name travels to different countries and cities.
Author of the Hymn of the Azores and co-founder of the National Front for the Defense of Culture, Natália stood out for her work, among varied genres - from poetry to novels, theater and essay – and she liked to be called a poet because of the feminist meaning she attributed to the word. This determination of hers was what made her move away from the politically correct, but her vision and ideology were not always validated. Natália was sentenced to three years in prison (with a suspended sentence, for publishing a work considered offensive to customs and traditions) and was prosecuted for having had editorial responsibility for the remarkable “Novas Cartas Portuguesas” (the book written by the “Three Marias”).
Natália Correia passed away in 1993, leaving a great void in Portuguese literature and a legacy that we will remember forever – partially because Natália was, among so many achievements, one of those responsible for the appearance of the café-concert concept in Portugal.
Sara Barros Leitão is much more than an actress, playwright or director. She sees herself as an activist and this word fits her perfectly, since she fights for the existence and quality of culture, for the rights of the artistic class and for Women's Rights, using her voice to promote a change in mentalities and to alert for many scourges and injustices that we still face today.
Sara has done an extraordinary job in strengthening feminist ideology in Portugal and has created a feminist book club. Heróides, which we share with the belief that all initiatives that promote the deconstruction of patriarchal ideologies are welcome, is a project that began in January this year and will have, in all, 12 online discussion sessions with guests, space for reflection, debate, sharing of thoughts and interpretation in Portuguese Sign Language.
Reading a book, making a poster or writing a text may be a small step in the eyes of many, but it is, in fact, the starting point for a better world. Sara proves it every day, with each attitude or post.
We know that there are many names that are not on this list and that this reduced number does not include even 1/100 of the women who deserve to be highlighted, but the presence of our dear Ana Sofia Martins could not, under any circumstances, be questioned.
An example of respect, friendship between women or mutual aid (because, after all, a woman's success does not prevent another's). Sofia is more than just a pretty face or the pride she has in her hair (which we love, too!) Model, presenter, actress, activist, and feminist, she fought hard to achieve everything she has today, and she doesn't forget her origins or her history. Like Josefinas, she supports the Wink Kriola project, which aims to create and offer reusable pads to underprivileged girls and women, so they don't stop working or going to school because they can't afford them.
Ana Sofia fights, daily, to get support for those most in need, and it is not uncommon to see her using social networks to publicize solidarity campaigns. Among other initiatives, her connection to Casa de Acolhimento Mão Amiga shows everything that Ana Sofia is: friend, humble, fighter, and dedicated. A true Power Woman, proud to be who she is, who makes us say goodbye to this significant day with a golden key.
Let us fight now so that next year there will be fewer inequalities to point out.
Throughout history much has been conquered, but there is still much more to conquer, because nothing can be taken for granted. Women deserve more visibility, more appreciation, and less prejudice. Today is Women's Day, but this fight doesn't end here.
Happy Women's Day to all people who identify as such and to all men who are with us in the fight for Gender Equality!