The increasing power and influence of women in Brazil
A number of countries have seen major changes in recent years, but surely few can claim to have seen as rapid a transition as Brazil. Just a few decades ago, it was ruled over by a stern military dictatorship and was among the poorest nations outside of Africa. The economy was slow and cumbersome, and any recovery was blighted by high unemployment, low wages and a crippling interest rate.
These days, the country that will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics is enjoying a heady period of growth, and has seemingly thrown off the shackles of a somewhat forgettable past. Brazil is a forward-thinking modern society, as evidenced by the increasing number of powerful women in local and national governments, public authorities and in independent and state-owned businesses.
Maria Sílvia Bastos Marques, head of Rio’s Olympic organisation, has worked in banking, been a director of several major companies, and has served in prominent positions within local authorities. She, along with many other women, represents a new Brazil, one that has embraced female executives. More than a quarter of senior executives within Brazil’s leading companies are women, a higher proportion than in the UK or the United States.
In recent years, Brazil has emerged as a true consumer society, with an increasing number of people having access to the finest goods and services both in their local stores and on the internet. Indeed, e-commerce in Brazil has been on the increase for some time now, and with more and more areas of the country gaining access to broadband this is a trend that looks set to continue.
The increasing power and influence of women in Brazil has perhaps come as a result of two major developments. Firstly, families are smaller now than in the past, with women having an average of less than two children in the 21st century, compared with around six only a few decades ago. Second, the access to prestigious business qualifications via colleges and universities has become as open to women now as it always was to men.
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