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07 October 2019

Three women of African descent elected to Portuguese parliament

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Following the 6th October legislative elections in Portugal, three women of African descent will become members of parliament (MPs)—Joacine Katar Moreira of the party Livre (Free), Beatriz Gomes Dias of Bloco de Esquerda (Left Block) and Romualda Fernandes of the Socialist Party.

Joacine Katar-Moreira is a researcher at ISCTE (Lisbon’s University Institute) and founder of the Black Women Institute in Portugal (INMUNE). Beatriz Gomes Dias is a high school biology teacher and founder of Djass - Association of Afrodescendants. Romualda Fernandes is a lawyer and a member of the board of the Portuguese High Commission for Migration.

Experts in history and political science as well as civil society leaders have reacted positively to the outcome. Historian Filipa Lowndes Vicente, an expert on the history of colonialism, stated that the election ‘was a very important day, because three black women, progressive, feminist and advocates of an egalitarian, inclusive and tolerant society were elected’. She is optimistic: ‘I see it also as a sign of some maturity in a country that is already able to critically discuss both its colonial past and the many marks that past still has in the present. These faces and voices were needed’.

Professor Inocência Mata, the only black lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, emphasised that this will be an ‘unprecedented, original and historic’ parliament. While the new MPs are not the first non-white MPs, in Mata’s view, the new MPs will bring something new to the parliament and to their parties by pressing on issues that have not received enough attention.

Paulo Mendes, a Cape Verdean with Portuguese citizenship and coordinator of the Platform of Representative Structures of Immigrant Communities in Portugal (PERCIP), noted that the political invisibility of some groups in Portugal was corrected in a democratic and quota-free manner. He further underlined the importance to young black women of having the three new MPs as role models.

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Alina Esteves
Country Coordinator

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