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Organisations | Redes da Maré and Casa das Mulheres, Rio de Janeiro


Organisations | Redes da Maré and Casa das Mulheres, Rio de Janeiro

As part of our ongoing collaborative Women Resisting Violence project in partnership between LAB and King’s College London, we are spotlighting Latin American grassroots campaigns and organisations that counter violence against women and girls. Read on to learn about Redes da Maré, who feature in our Women Resisting Violence podcast.

Redes da Maré (Networks of Maré) is a civil society organisation situated in the poor neighbourhood of Maré in Rio de Janeiro, which comprises 16 favelas with over 140,000 residents.

Under the directorship of Eliana Sousa Silva, Redes da Maré has 4 areas of work:

The local or “territorial” development programme aims to understand the lives of the residents of Maré through research, and to work with key figures and local organisations to provide more public policy tools and partnerships for sustainable development. A core aspect of this work is to challenge negative perceptions of the favelas. Since 2018, this programme has focused on four pillars: women and gender, harm reduction and drug policies, youth initiatives and social and environmental experiences.

Inauguration of Casa das Mulhres in Parque União. Image: Elisângela Leite / Redes da Maré

Casa das Mulheres

The Casa das Mulheres (CDM) (Women’s House) was established in 2016 by Redes da Maré and is part of the women and gender pillar. Its aim is to foster the role of women in the favelas and improve their lives and living conditions. The Casa das Mulheres recognises the historical role of women in the development of the infrastructure in Maré and in social movements and organisations in the favelas since the 1980s. 

CDM offers socio-legal and psychological care services for women, many of whom are survivors of gender-based violence, and vocational training in areas such as gastronomy and beauty. Its approach is based on the protection of human rights, including the right to receive and give care. In addition to these services, the CDM provides a safe space for women to meet and share experiences. 

The establishment of Casa Das Mulheres.

CDM engages in numerous research projects, many of them with international partners. As part of a collaboration between British universities since 2016, two projects have been conducted on the nature of Violence Against Women and Girls and forms of resistance to it. One aspect of the first study was based on a survey of 801 women in the favelas of Maré (carried out pre-COVID in 2016-2018) and revealed that 57% of those surveyed suffered one or more forms of gender-based violence (34% physical, 30% sexual and 45% psychological) with young black women being most likely to have experienced gendered violence (69% of black women compared to 55% of mixed-race women and 50% of those identifying as white). Intimate partners committed 47% of the violence with more than half occurring in the public sphere (53%).

Covid Response

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With the onset of the COVID crisis, Redes da Maré and CDM developed two institutional responses. The first aimed at meeting basic food, hygiene and health needs through a campaign: ‘Maré Says No to Coronavirus’ (Campanha Maré Diz Não ao Coronavírus). This was based on an early realisation of the potentially devastating impacts of the pandemic on the poor, especially black women residents. The campaign started in March 2020 with six fronts of action: food security; assistance to the homeless; income generation; access to health rights, care and prevention; production and dissemination of secure information; and support for local artists and cultural groups. The core activities were led and delivered mainly by women.

Maré says no to Coronavirus

The second initiative, also developed by women in Maré, was the ‘Support Network for Women in Maré’ (RAMM – Rede de Apoio às Mulheres da Maré), initiated in May 2020 by the organisation Fight for Peace (Luta Pela Paz). It was set up in response to the potential increase in domestic violence due to lockdown measures in the overcrowded homes of the favela. The RAMM aimed at coordinating professionals from different areas of care, including public policy, civil society organisations and the neighbouring university, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), with the aim of building joint strategies for women in Maré.

Redes da Maré and CDM continue to work to protect the residents of Maré from COVID and from gender-based violence, most recently in their vaccination programme in the summer of 2021. As in all their work, women are key protagonists in its development and resisting intersectional violence is core to understanding how the organisation functions. 

Videos from Redes da Maré

World Health Day and ‘Conexão Saúde: Eyes on Covid’
World Education Day: Education during the pandemic. Maré Says NO to Coronavirus.
The organisation’s director, Eliana, speaks on confronting COVID-19.

Follow Redes da Maré on social media

Main image: Jéssica Pires / Redes da Maré