A: Welcome. I'm very happy to welcome Jacqueline Pitanguy from Brazil. We'd love to hear a little bit about what you are doing now and what led you to that point. J: Well, right now I am still doing what I have been doing for the past 23 years. And this is: I run an organization, a non-governmental organization, based in Rio de Janeiro, called CEPIA. And we work mostly with violence and access to justice, health, sexual and reproductive rights and with low-income community women in terms of enhancing their leadership capacity, their citizenship rights. So within these broad, programmatic life we developed a number of things. You know I always say that women are like pulpos (octopi). We have many arms, many legs. It is the same when we work. I mean we do so many different things within that basic, programmatic line. So CEPIA is still going on, and I would say today it is a reference women's rights NGO in Brazil. A: I think, as I recall, CEPIA was founded specifically around the issue of violence against women. Is that true? J: Well CEPIA, its interesting. Because before starting CEPIA, I was in a governmental position. I was in a cabinet position. We were on the democratization moment of our countries in the late 80s, mid 80s. By being on this national council for women's rights, I understood the need to have very strong non-governmental organization, a very strong civil society organization, in order to make advocacy and push the government not only in a critical way towards government but also propose. So when we started CEPIA, it had this feature of being a very strong advocacy organization for women's rights. So we work within this broad frame of women's rights/human's rights and citizenship rights. And then we have privileged the issues of violence and access to justice, but also similarly the issue of sexual and reproductive rights -- which is a form of violence if a woman has been deprived of. We have always been working on an advocacy level. A: And has the work of CEPIA and other groups worked? In other words has it had an effect in Brazil on government and other organizations? J: Certainly, yes. I would say that the women's movement in Brazil has had an effect -- an important one. We started and we came as a political actor in the arena in the late 70s. But then in the 80s with the democratization process, we also started to get inside the government in doing public policy with a women's or gendered perspective -- we didn't use the word gender at that time, those words are historical. But anyway, I think that our Constitution, our 1988 Constitution, reflects the impact of women's movements, advocacy, and the National Council for Women's Rights. It is really a constitution that assures women's rights. So I would say that today in Brazil in terms of a normative frame we are quite advanced. What we see now is the need to break this distance between laws and reality, between laws and life, and to guarantee the real access to what is already written so it does not become only rhetoric. And then you do have categories that we will make an interface and make this distance between laws and reality larger or shorter -- and that is social class, that's race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, poverty. So there is a number of issues that cut transversally and do interfere. So I like to talk about women in plural because we are a different category among ourselves. A: I'd like to speak specifically, if we could, a little about violence against women and whether in Brazil, you and your colleagues have come to some conclusions about what can be done effectively around what me might describe as an epidemic of violence against women around the world. J: This issue of the epidemic of violence against women around the world I think requires multiple answers because it is multi-layered. It is a very complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon. And in Brazil I think we have had, in 2006, an important achievement which is a new legislation called "Lei [Law] Maria da Penha". It is named for a woman who became paraplegic because her husband tried to murder her. So this new legislation is specific on domestic violence and also establishes courts, special courts of justice, to deal with the cases. So we do have now a frame, some principles that are very important. This does not mean that violence will end because you have a law. But yes, women will now have a more strong protection. They have some principles to which they can refer to and so this was very important. But on the other hand, another issue that I think is very important when dealing with violence against women is the issue of invisibility and the lack of reliable statistics. There is a lack of reliable statistics many times because: first, they are not still considered a real crime by the police in general; second, statistics are not good on a specific country and if they are not good they will be really worse when it is not considered an issue. This is really violence against women, the fact that we really do not know exactly how many women are victims of violence. And I think this is something that can be acted upon and quickly, demanding institutes of statistics, and etcetera. And then there is another phenomenon that is much harder to deal with that is embedded in identity building, and it has to do with cultural and/or religious values. We all know that it is much, much slower to change beliefs and cultures than to start legislation, or a new police station, etcetera. This is something that worries me most. Not only the fact that the culture is very slow to change but also that in the same society you do have different cultural perspectives as to what is violence against women, toward what is violence in general, and how should you act on that? What I want to say is that crime and order, and order and disorder, this is historical, it is dated. Its not necessarily homogeneous in a society, or unanimous. You might have a society with different perceptions, different social perspectives, that might or might not be ascribed in legislations or practices of what is violence against women. So you might be in the same country at the same moment, a certain region that accepts a certain amount of violence because they don't consider it as violence. And that is very dangerous. That I think is very dangerous. It is exactly to build in a country a certain culture that will be consensual that certain issues, certain behaviors, certain attitudes, are violent. And then there is a distance between what is seen as a violence, what is criminalized and what is punished. And this is political. This distance is political. We see this so clearly in relation to the cases of women who are murdered by their lovers, their spouses -- so called crimes of passion ??and if the woman had been murdered by a man on the street she doesn't know it has one treatment. But when it comes to this domestic cycle, in certain societies it is totally accepted -- the issue of honor killing. In other societies the man will argue that the woman was having an affair, she was being unfaithful, she was doing this and that. And then there is this loop that the victim becomes the accused, and in many cases these men are acquitted or receive ridiculous sentences because this violence in accepted. Nobody discussed that murder is violence -- maybe the worst kind of violence, to take the life of someone. Nobody discussed okay is that criminal behavior? It depends. Will it be punished? Still depends. So this is something that also worries me a lot. How do we bring together something that is perceived as a crime, it is criminalized by the laws, etcetera, and then it is punished by the judicial system? This distance is still very flexible in many countries. And it worries me very much. A: This may seem like an odd question to ask you but you've been working on behalf of women's rights for many, many years. Why are you so passionate? And, why do you feel that this is so important? J: Well, I think out of love. Not out of hate, not of the sense that society owes me something. But I have received a lot in my life. I was born to a family that was very liberal, very progressive, with a deep sense of social justice, and that's the environment I was brought up with. Also my father had always given incentives to me, my sisters, that we should study, we should go to the university, should not depend on a man. And so it's not that it lacks something, but when I see that so many women do not have what I have, do not have the chance -- not even the possibility to have a relationship of love with a man. But so many women have relationships that are permeated by hate, by anger, and that they feel so devalued. Maybe because I feel that I am valuable, I want everybody to feel they are valuable, that they have self-esteem, and to believe in the world and believe in themselves. So maybe that's what brought me but that's always a mystery of life. So fortunately, we do not know exactly. A: Well I think in some sense you've answered this question but let me just say that this course may be attended by many, many people around the world -- students and people of all ages. What advice do you have for them about making the world a better place? J: Well this is ... making the world a better place is a difficult task, but I think we can do it from very, very small attitudes toward the person next to you, whoever that person is. To be involved in something that transcends the daily life -- the daily life of just having a career, which is very good, everybody wants to have a career, acquire knowledge, be successful. Those are all very important things. But there is something that I think that activism or a cause gives you, which is the sense of transcendency, I do not know if you have this word in English, but transcendency -- the sense that you are part of history, that you are a little drop in history towards an end that would be more positive. And that you might do in so many different circumstances. You might do it by joining big politics. But you might also do it by being an activist in civil society, by sharing your cause. But it's giving something of yourself to a cause that is not necessarily your own individual trajectory. But bring others to that. In my case, I was very much involved with women's issues because I could see how, while talking about democracy, while talking about equality, women were not part of that conversation. But there were many others causes that transcend the only individual look at life. And I think this brings more fulfillment and happiness to the person who adopts this attitude. A: Thank you so much for being with us.