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Brazil’s Temer draws ire after speech focusing on women’s domestic roles

In Women’s Day address, president praises economic skills such as checking supermarket prices

Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, drew an angry response on Wednesday following his International Women’s Day speech, which praised women for their roles as homemakers and mothers. In his address, Temer said that women participate significantly in the national economy by being vigilant about price changes at the supermarket. He also praised “everything that they do for their home and for their children.”

Michel Temer and his wife Marcela.

“Nobody is better able to detect the imbalances in supermarket prices than women,” said the 76-year-old leader, who is married to a 33-year-old beauty queen. “Nobody is better able to detect eventual economic fluctuations in their own growing or shrinking household budgets.”

Temer, who was the deputy to Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, before her impeachment in August of last year, was treated to a barrage of criticism on social media in response.

“Those statements make me want to cry, they are ridiculous,” said one Twitter user.

Those statements make me want to cry, they are ridiculous

Twitter user

“Temer still doesn’t realize that we no longer live in the 18th century?” wondered another.

“Yeah, like his wife really knows how much a kilo of meat costs?” wrote a third.

The national secretary of policies for women, Fátima Pelaes, denied that the president’s statements were sexist, and said he was only referring to modern women’s domestic and professional workday.

A march in Sao Paulo on International Women's Day.
A march in Sao Paulo on International Women's Day. EFE

She said that Temer should be judged by his acts, not his speeches.

In his address, delivered at Planalto Palace, Temer admitted that women in Brazil are treated like “second-rate figures, when they should really occupy the first position in all societies.” This is because society works well thanks to the fact that people had a good education at home, “and it is women who perform this job.”

Surrounded by some of the women in his team, Temer reviewed the role of women in Brazil’s history and in the struggle for equal rights. He also said that “one of the pillars of the national security plan” is the fight against femicides and gender violence.

As for social movements, he said that “the most relevant driving force in the exercise of Brazilian citizenship lies in women,” who have penetrated this sector thanks to “an enthusiastic and persistent movement.”

Temer’s speech will do little to improve his low popularity ratings as the country continues to struggle through an economic recession and a political crisis stemming from a far-reaching corruption investigation known as Lava-Jato.

English version by Susana Urra.

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