2023 Brazilian Women Making a Difference Award

Aline Souza da Silva

A third-generation recyclable waste collector, Aline Souza started working collecting recyclable waste with her grandmother and mother at the former Brasília landfill. After living for 10 years in a canvas shack on the outskirts of Brasilia, where she stored books in a cardboard box, today she is the president-director in her third mandate of the largest central cooperative of recyclable collectors in Latin America. Aline Souza was nominated for her outstanding work on recycling in Brazil, her leadership of recyclable waste collectors of Brasília, and for her example of countering the climate crisis and social injustice. President Lula’s request that Aline Souza hand over the presidential sash speaks both to the importance of her work and her personal role in Brazilian society.

Erika Hilton

An activist for Afro-Brazilian and LGBT+ rights, Hilton is a well-known Brazilian politician and member of the Chamber of Deputies.  As a teenager, she was expelled from a conservative family home and lived on the streets, before going to university.  With a background in student politics, Hilton moved to São Paulo and joined the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) party. In 2020 she was elected to the Municipal Chamber of São Paulo as the first openly transgender city councilor, receiving the most votes for any candidate throughout Brazil.  During her tenure as city councilor, she authored the law that introduced a municipal fund against hunger in Brazil’s largest city.  Hilton went on to become the first trans women elected Federal Deputy in Sao Paulo state in 2022 elections.

Flavia Santos Twardowski Pinto

Flávia Santos Twardowski Pinto is a professor and director general at Campus Osório of the Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology of Rio Grande do Sul.  Ms. Santos Twardowski Pinto has spent the last 13 years encouraging high school students, especially girls, to develop research projects in STEM-related fields through scientific innovation, aimed at solving relevant problems such as the environment and food, both from a technological point of view and to suggest solutions to social communities. Projects supervised by Ms. Santos Twardowski Pinto have received more than 200 national awardsFlávia holds a degree in Food Engineering, a master’s degree in Food Science and Technology and a PhD in Production Engineering from UFRGS. She also holds a degree in Pedagogy. Her trajectory is an example of dedication to the education of young people, specially connecting girls to STEAM related fields and encouraging them to become scientists, with results that give us hope that a better future and another world are possible.

Jacqueline Moraes da Silva

Jacqueline Moraes da Silva is the current Espírito Santo State Secretary for Women Policies, after serving as the the first woman elected vice governor of the State (2019-2022).  Moraes is a former street vendor, an ambassador of the Lovelace Court project at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology (IFES Vila Velha), a partner of the Meninas Digitais project, and a Tedx Speaker (TEDx Niterói edition – 2019). She started her political career participating in community and grassroots movements, mainly in underprivileged communities and her effort in support of social, gender, and racial equality and justice are well-regarded in political circles and civil society.  Moraes is a firm believer that society improves through the adoption of public policies that advance the role of women.  Her work has helped bring women to the centerstage, having their voice heard and making tangible change in society.  Mayors and political figures have attributed the establishment of women councils in their towns to Moraes. 

Marciele Procópio Delduque

Marciele Delduque is the founder of the Marianas Mulheres Que Inspiram network, which involves more than 1,000 women and organizes activities to boost the local economy. Marciele is dedicated to women’s empowerment in her various activities, including as a high-impact mentor for SEBRAE DELAS, and to the marginalized groups through her work as coordinator of CUFA  Brasil – Unique Center of Favelas, director of Expo Favela Minas and Coordinator of Comunidade Door. Marciele was recognized as a Woman Beyond the “Gerais” by Federaminas and was the winner of the Brics Women’s Innovation Competition Award in 2022.

Maria Jose da Silva

Descendant of the Funiô ethnic group, an indigenous village located in Pernambuco, in the Northeast of Brazil, Maria José da Silva arrived in Alagoas in 1989. Her trajectory is marked by the struggle for the rights of black women, quilombolas, indigenous people, Roma, LGBTQI+ population, as well as other peripheral populations in the processes of social inclusion and coping with gender violence. Maria Silva was secretary of the Single Central of the Favelas (SCF) and regional superintendent (Northeast) of the Palmares Foundation (2013 to 2015), when she participated actively in the certification process of 32 Quilombos. In June 2018, she assumed the State Secretariat for Women and Human Rights – SEMUDH, of Alagoas, appointed by the Workers’ Party (PT).  In her administration, she gave SEMUDH a new role, which began to develop activities of inclusion in public policies prioritizing women of the traditional communities (gypsies, Indians, caboclos, rubber tappers, quilombos, fishermen and jangadeiros), the rural population, homeless people, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ population.

Maria has implemented innovative and more participative public management, taking her team to all the regions in Alagoas to provide support for the most distant and needy communities to seek solutions to improve human rights protection. Secretary da Silva’s passion for women’s empowerment, ending violence, and protecting indigenous rights, as well as her experience and leadership were key for her nomination to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program, which took place in 2020 and focused on combating gender-based violence.

Txai Surui

Walelasoetxeige Paiter Bandeira Suruí

Txai Surui was born of the Suruí people in Rondônia, Brazil.  She has been inspired by both of her parents, who are best known for their work fighting deforestation in the Amazon. Her father is the chief Almir Suruí (IVLP alumnus) and her mother is the activist Ivaneide Suruí. She is one of the most preeminent voices in the fight against climate change and is the founder and coordinator of the Movement of Indigenous Youth of Rondônia. Her group currently has 1700 members. Txai was the first of her people to obtain a law degree, and now works with the Kanindé legal team, to preserve the rights and land of Indigenous Peoples. Her work centers around climate justice, as the environmental crisis in the Amazon directly affects their territories and lives.  She is one of six young climate activists suing the Brazilian government for changing its 2005 carbon baseline to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement’s carbon reduction objectives.