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Cantagalo Celebrates Community’s ‘Women Warriors’ [SLIDESHOW]

Cantagalo residents took to the streets with a procession celebrating the women of the favela on the eve of International Women’s Day, March 7.

The event started in the Museu de Favela (MUF), a community organization founded by community leaders of Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho favelas who organized the event. The procession then went to each house or business carrying banners of celebrated women to share the congratulations. The celebrated ‘Women Warriors’ were chosen based on their commitment and leadership in the community while overcoming personal difficulties, making them strong role models for residents.

Some of the banners shared key quotes from the women, emphasizing their strength and role in the community:

Rosimary: “The first thing that I had to do well was raise my children. With or without a father they are still mine, right? And the second was running my own business.”

Natalina: “Always lift your head. Walk with your head held high, it is a good thing. I have always had a raised head. That’s a very good thing, right?”

Maria Helena: “… education, cultural and social activities, regardless of religion. Embrace, learn, receive, interact… that is my difference.”

Neuza: “The favela makes us who we are, and is made by each of us. I taught my children that as well.”

Mario Chagas leading the procession

The celebrated women were completely surprised as the procession arrived at their homes. As the procession continued through the streets, friends and families of the women came out to cheer along the group holding banners praising each of the women. Onlookers cheered: “I know them, they’re my family.”

Mario Chagas, standard-bearer of the procession spoke of its importance: “Every year we plan an event on International Women’s Day. It’s very important–today, this Saturday–because tomorrow is International Women’s Day, to pay homage to women, and so we created this exhibition for them.”

This is the third consecutive year the Museu has celebrated the women of the favela, bringing the community together to highlight strong female role models.

“They are all very important to the museum, very important to the favela where they have built their lives,” said Chagas. “Many are single mothers, raising children alone. They are very strong for their children. Many work all the same and are leaders in the favela. Some are artists, journalists, entrepreneurs. Rosimary is one great example, she is the business owner of a popular restaurant in the favela. She is a single entrepreneur.”

Rosimary, entrepreneur celebrated for her contribution in Cantagalo Favela

MUF is a non-governmental organization, founded in 2008 by residents of the community. The 16 founders of MUF are a diverse, talented group of artists, musicians, singers and composers of hip hop and samba, recognized community leaders, broadcasters, journalists, capoeira dancers, artisans, photographers, an architect-urbanist former businesswoman and a lawyer.

Following the procession, MUF hosted a party to celebrate the women and success of the event, placing the placards on the walls of their roof terrace and projecting videos and photos of the procession. The celebration continued into the early hours of International Women’s Day.

To view full album see below, or click here to see on Flickr with captions: