‘When you put the feminist lens on, you cannot avoid feeling bad about certain things’

brasilobserver - Mar 08 2016
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Nana Lima (Photo: Personal arquive)

(Leia em Português)


Brasil Observer interviews Nana Lima, co-founder of Think Eva and project manager of Think Olga


By Ana Toledo

Brazilians have a high engagement rate on social media channels. Several issues are raised all the time and, among them, is feminism. Comments on the subject are no longer something new, which can already be considered a step forward, because the issue has been traditionally treated as taboo in Brazil.

The latest feminist “controversy” put the actress Fernada Torres on the spotlight. The debate started with a post in a blog hosted by Folha de S. Paulo newspaper’s website, which published an article signed by Fernanda that soon generated great impact online. Women from everywhere in Brazil haven’t saved any character to question some concepts exposed by the actress. The same blog published then a response by Fernanda Torres, who apologized after re-evaluating her opinions. Some accepted the mea culpa, highlighting the importance of dialogue and the ability of the actress to revise her concepts. Others, however, did not accept. One way or another, it is a case of how the feminist movement in Brazil has evolved in recent years and of course the importance of the internet in this process.

Regardless of the opinion you may have, the fact is that since 2013 a number of initiatives have been created and others that have existed for longer have been expanded because of debates like that. This is the case of Think Olga, which is an NGO responsible for feminist campaigns in Brazil such as #meuprimeiroassedio, focused on debating the first harassment suffered by women. As a consequence of Olga, Think Eva is a consulting firm for brands, agencies, institutions, NGOs and government agencies that want to create a healthy dialogue with women.

To talk about the experience of these projects, in an environment in which the subject has gained voluntary repercussions on the internet through various fronts, Brasil Observer interviewed Nana Lima, a co-founder of Think Eva and project manager of Think Olga. In a relaxed conversation, Nana showed her personal sensitivity to the issue and how it is a key factor to make the message effective through practical changes.


On women’s day, what do we have to celebrate?

The reason of this day is a very sad story and it’s horrible to think that many things have not changed. The demands are very much the same: equal pay, a labour market that looks for women as human beings, the understanding that we have different needs than men. We don’t have much to celebrate because we are walking in small steps and often we have setbacks. But I think it’s interesting to have a month to generate debates. Both Eva and Olga receive many invitations from companies, schools and universities for lectures. And what we try to do is to continue to work beyond the month of March. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it is very interesting, but then the date cannot be trivialized. It is a day for us to think that nothing has changed so much as they say.


Is understanding feminism like choosing between a red or blue pill, you can never go back?

I think so (laughs). We use to say that when you put the lens of feminism on, you cannot avoid feeling bad about certain things, or watch TV the same way, even the conversations change. You understand that it is a matter of behaviours, including the fact that if you say nothing, you are perpetuating the bad habits. That’s what is happening to this generation. It does not enter in the head of the younger girls that they do not have the same rights of a boy, for example; that maybe she will give up college to take care of a child; that she will earn less than a boy who entered college with her; that even being as capable as men, you have a different salary.


The feminist movement in Brazil has occupied an important space for debate, online and on the streets. In the long run, how do you see the reflection of this in society?

While we don’t achieve structural changes – law, business, communication and marketing – this wave will not pass. Women are much more aware of their role, their right, and are organizing more to fight for it. Some newspapers wonder about this “new feminism”, but it is not new, it’s the same demand of the 1960s and 1970s, the same thing that we claimed in the 1920s and 1930. Now with the internet we have the power of organization, complaint, to show our dissatisfaction. Sometimes you think you’re alone, that it is only you thinking that way, so you put on the internet and realize a flood of support. While these changes do not occur, such as the decriminalization of abortion, equality of wages, parental leave – so that women are not placed in the refrigerator before or after the maternity – nothing will change.

From the point of view of marketing, I think that “empowering” communication will become rule. We are still at the beginning, but I believe this will be almost the modus operandi of the brands. I am being very optimistic, but I think that’s what will happen.


Most voters in Brazil are women, but women’s representation in Congress is still very low. How do you see this situation?

Having women in Congress does not mean that everything will improve, or that the movement will be better. We need to know what kind of woman we’re putting there. Are we improving diversity? You can have a woman, for example, who is only interested in the agenda of agriculture, or a person who is not interested by the demands of the movement. We have to have more diversity of women for this to be turned into a variety of public policy. We have a very homogeneous view. One example is Dilma Rousseff, a female president who gave us cuts in public policies for women. This is a challenge to make politics something sexy for young people. These days I was in a meeting and ask ourselves why don’t we become candidates? We have an example of how women in power are massacred because they are women. They suffer so much machismo you say that never will occupy a position like that. If we have more women there, machismo would not be as accepted.


Feminism goes basically through two issues: rights in the labour market (fight linked to the claims in the factories of Victorian England) and sexuality (from 1968 movements in France). How do you understand these two fronts?

Now the fight is much more intersectional. Women understand that, for example, I, white female, upper medium class, highly educated, have a fight. But we have a bunch of women from different life experiences, from social class, ethnic groups, who suffer other forms of violence. I think that’s one of the things that make the movement to be more consistent. We can move forward, but at the same time look to the side and see what others could not. And the internet contributes, because we can share more experiences. Today I can create an empathy with what a black woman suffers at the periphery. And this makes the movement much more coherent and more interesting. It is more challenging because it is easier make mistakes in some views. On the other hand, it makes a cooler thing to work, achieving not only a specific group of women.


Think Eva has another role in this movement, to bring the discussion into the companies. How do you develop this work?

We work on three fronts with business. One is the strategy that is working within the company communication, enter the branding and also analyse the company’s consistency. You cannot talk that empowers women and your female employees earn less. Another part is the content of both internal and external communication materials, joint campaigns. And the third is education, with training sessions, workshops. It may happen that a company is not at the point of change or start talking about it, but want to start this debate there. And the three fronts usually mix. Over time, the fact that a company does not have an internal policy for women will be a surprise.


The new generation has surprised in various forms of movement, such as occupations of schools in São Paulo at the end of last year. How do you see feminism has been debated among younger?

The girls are doing much better than our generation. We have had the experience of giving lectures to girls between 12 and 16 years and it’s amazing to realize the consciousness they have. The clarity they need to fight to have the same rights as boys already have, inside and outside the school. Because they have access to the internet, much more than we had, they are managing to get organized and learn more. The occupations of schools in São Paulo were practically led by the girls. I think this generation will not take steps, but jumps.

Originally published at Brasil Observer issue 36

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