Elas no Congresso 2021: Proposals unfavorable to women may gain support from new congressional leaders

Country/area: Brazil

Organisation: AzMina Magazine

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 29/03/2021

Credit: Bárbara Libório, Helena Bertho, Carolina Oms, Thais Folego, Renata Hirota, Reinaldo Chaves, Erlan Almeida, Leandro Amorim, Erico Rosa, Carolina Herrera, Pedro Rodrigues, Guilherme Lobo, Larissa Ribeiro


AzMina is a response to gender inequality. We use communication, technology and journalism to combat violence against women. AzMina produces a national digital publication of independent and investigative journalism focused on gender (AzMina Magazine); a platform for monitoring the rights of women in the National Congress (They in Congress); an observatory of gender-based political violence on social media during elections in Brazil (Monitora); an app to combat domestic violence (Penhas) and a virtual assistant on Twitter that guides girls and women about abusive relationships (Penha). All this with an intersectional perspective, bringing the issue of gender linked to race, class and sexual orientation.

Project description:

Elas no Congresso is a legislative monitoring project by Revista AzMina that uses public data from the Brazilian legislature to monitor women’s rights in the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. We analyzed with 17 organizations that work with women’s rights 649 bills on gender that were created in 2019 and 2020 in the Brazilian legislature. We found that 1 in 4 bills are unfavorable to women’s rights and that they are the most active in for women’s rights.

Impact reached:

Our survey was republished by national vehicles such as UOL and MyNews. Our analysis also guided debates on how women’s rights are treated in Congress, with AzMina as a source. Our analysis of the growth and ineffectiveness of punitiveness as a way to combat gender violence was the subject of reports and debates on YouTube in the Chamber of Deputies itself.

Elas no Congresso is the first legislative, public and free monitoring project, specializing in women’s rights in the country. AzMina joined the project with its expertise in technology, journalism, and advocacy and mobilization, an unprecedented initiative in the country at a time when women’s rights have been victims of daily attacks by the federal government and Congress. Today, Elas no Congresso have articulation with feminist organizations, which help in the evaluation of bills and also receive and use our monitoring to organize their advocacy strategies, with parliamentarians who are evaluated, interviewed and share their agendas and proposals with us, with the the press that uses this data to cover gender, and with civil society that mobilizes to draw the attention of parliamentarians responsible for the progress and setbacks monitored by the project.

Techniques/technologies used:

For the published survey, we first selected a broad list of keywords often related to women’s rights. These are terms that range from domestic violence, maternity leave and abortion to adjacent themes such as childbirth, childcare and breastfeeding. We then searched the House and Senate APIs, with Python, to find projects of interest. Each proposal receives a score, ranging from -2 to 2, according to its relevance and position in relation to women’s rights. This score is based on the evaluation of each project by 17 civil society organizations working on women’s rights. With this we were able to carry out qualitatve and quantitative analyzes on topics covered, performance of parliamentarians and parties, etc.

So we also do our ranking. For each parliamentarian, we consider the sum of the scores of the projects of his/her authorship. It is from this that we calculate the final score: a proportion of the maximum value (in the case of positive scores) or the minimum value (in the case of negative scores) between the scores of all parliamentarians, in addition to a variable weight according to acting of the party to which he belongs. Thus, the final score of parliamentarians ranges from -100 to +100, with -100 being the worst score among the analyzed parliamentarians, and +100 being the best score. The calculations were created by a statistician and are checked by a development and programming professional. All data on the analyzed projects and the notes of each parliamentarian and party are available for download.

What was the hardest part of this project?

We had the mission of bringing together more than a dozen organizations that work with women’s rights in different themes to qualitatively analyze each project. We look for organizations that work with domestic violence, sexual and reproductive rights, sports, labor rights, among others. In 2021, during the pandemic, bringing this network together and creating methodological agreements to classify these projects into two binary classifications was certainly the most challenging part.

This year we also made changes to the calculation of our ranking to make it even more assertive, including a weight for the party’s average grade to also include it as part of each parliamentarian’s personal grade. We continue to seek to avoid distortions in the role of parliamentarians on gender in Congress.

What can others learn from this project?

For the media ecosystem, the project reduces the difficulty for reporters and editors to keep track of complicated and, in most cases, not as transparent processes as the bills move forward in regional legislative bodies. Our project facilitates coverage of women’s rights in local and national vehicles.

But for sure the entire ecosystem can be inspired by our methodology. When we won the Claudio Weber Abramo Award for Data Journalism, in 2020, the award jury highlighted the “original, complete, relevant approach, and a rare degree of complexity in journalistic work guided by data”. It also drew attention to the rigor of data processing and the degree of replicability of the methodology. Finally, she stated that the material project brought very important findings about the dimension of gender inequality in Brazilian politics.

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