The Women’s Citizenship Workshop was created by the integration of university and community, as an attempt to meet the need of working with local women.

Since the demand was somewhat vague, we used as a starting point a previous work done to better acknowledge the reality of community leadership in Lote XV, a neighborhood in Belford Roxo, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This previous work offered data for a later intervention, which, through a participative methodology, was supposed to be useful and to meet the local women’s expectations.

"The idea is to start from local culture and knowledge and enable each group to participate and be responsible for their own development process - totally identifying with it".

The main characteristic observed in the community leadership speech was the contradiction resulting from the fact that their identities were built as mothers – within a private space – while at the same time they had an activity that linked them to a public space. The contradiction seemed so obvious that it ended up by naming the work– "Women out of place", which was also the title of a video illustrating the conflicts experienced by the women interviewed, which became evident from their own speeches.

Feminist Popular Education intends to renegotiate gender conditions, observing how other social categories such as race, culture, ethnic group, age, social class and sexual orientation participate in its construction.

Thus, the need for an emancipating intervention, which would facilitate a critical reflection process, became gradually clear. According to Paulo Freire, this could be a basis for conscientization – a process that culminates in action, or in a more active posture, where the person is accountable for his/her own story and for the possibilities of changing it.

The feminists took again the Paulo Freire’s ideas and used the empowerment concept to systematize what they called "Feminist Popular Education" . These are the theoretical premises behind the Workshop.

In this kind of work it is essential to start with women’s closest experiences – the domestic environment, the neighborhood, the family, the origin of feelings and emotions – using concrete instead of abstract references. This process intends to reveal daily life as intrinsically political and related to wider social and hierarchical oppression issues. It is a very delicate process, since the valorization of individual experiences may corroborate a depreciation of the feminine universe; but the challenge is to illustrate, through different experiences, the heterogeneity of the category called "woman".

During our work with groups of women, we also used a few dramatizations based on the method of Teatro do Oprimido / Theatre of the Oppressed, which establishes total affinity with the video feedback technique, as well as with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogia do Oprimido / Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The idea is to enhance awareness of the "here and now", as well as of data not perceptible before, to researchers and researched. Thus we could build a path leading these women to a critical reflection on their own realities.


Description: The Oficina de Cidadania da Mulher (Workshop for Women’s Citizenship) has been structured with basis on the empowerment concept proposed by Nelly Stromquist. This concept is divided into four levels: cognitive, psychological, economical and political.
Each level had been addressed through specific themes, always employing participative methodologies and videos as tools.

Target-public: Women from urban underprivileged classes.

Purpose: Gender and Empowerment awareness.

Duration: three days

Key Words: Gender; Citizenship; Health; Sexuality; Human rights; Local development projects.

Required Materials:
¸ A large room;
¸ Mobile chairs;
¸ Flipchart;
¸ Video camera;
¸ V. C. R;
¸ Television or Big Screen;
¸ Sheets of paper;
¸ Color pens.

Themes Addressed: Cognitive empowerment, gender awareness, sexual division of work.

- Morning:
• Registration of participants;
• Dynamic introduction of group;
• Contract;
• Introduction: survey of group and team expectations. Description of goals and methodologies.
• Sharing of experiences: recalling and discussing situations of oppression experienced by the participants; selection of situations for role-playing.
Role-playing should be filmed for video-feedback.

- Afternoon:
• Brain Storming: writing on the flipchart whatever comes to mind when thinking of woman and man;
• Resuming role-playing themes. Discussing different male and female roles in society, introducing the concepts of sex and gender;
• Construction of a one-day clock: building a 24 hrs clock, individually. Investigate the history of sexual work division and themes such as female double shifts, legitimacy and compensation of women’s work.
• Closing the day with a song which represents the group’s reality.

Themes Addressed: psychological empowerment, self-esteem, health, and sexuality, political empowerment and women’s rights.

- Morning:
• Video-feedback of previous day role-playing. Suggested questions to introduce discussions:
• Why does this happen? Why does a woman act like this?
• How should women react when confronted with the situations shown? Imagine another kind of reaction.
• Discussion on self-esteem: the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman. Is there an unique or ideal female model?
• Sexuality and health: knowledge, appropriation and responsibility over one’s body.
• Discussion in small groups about themes such as: STD/AIDS, monthly period, women’s disorders.
• Presentation of the main points of women’s health included in public policies.

- Afternoon:
• Women’s rights: presentation of daily situations faced by women. The participants will classify them as fair or unfair.
• Division into small groups and distribution of handouts about "women’s problems": divorce, work conditions, health issues, domestic violence. There should be an exchange of ideas about possible solutions for the cases presented. Distribution of the text of law related to each one.
• Relating women’s rights to the Declaration of Human Rights: what was first seen as an injustice, is now seen as a violation of human rights.
• Showing the importance of the civil society participation in order to legitimize and actually apply existing laws.

Themes Addressed: political empowerment, development, economical empowerment, local development projects.

- Morning:
• Development: encouraging discussion around a video-documentary on community work by women, establishing a dialogue between local and global; between community actions and the macro context.
• Basic and strategies needs: how can they be articulated with community work and individual actions.
• Projects: division into small groups to discuss what could be done in the communities regarding income generation, health, education, and law.
• Distribution of basic guidelines to help action planning (what to do, how, why, with whom, where?) always taking into consideration the projects’ sustainability. Groups will present a draft of the created projects.

- Afternoon
• Theater Forum: division into two groups. Each group will create a situation of oppression as a sketch;
• Each group will perform to the other group, followed by a discussion and intervention by the audience.
• Final evaluation of the workshop.



1) "D'ÁVILA NETO, M.I., PIRES, C., ALMEIDA, A., CABRAL, C., NAZARETH, J., SOARES, M.. Mulheres fora do lugar. Hi-8 / NTSC. Rio de Janeiro. Laboratoire d'Images - EICOS/IP/UFRJ, 1999. 11 min."