The streets in Rio are some of the toughest in the world to patrol, with law enforcement called on to fight drug gangs in favelas and go face-to-face with violent rioters. Some might think it’s a man’s job, but if you look closely, the gender dynamic behind Rio’s armed forces is changing.
Women are increasingly joining the military and taking on leadership roles. There are now 34,500 women in Brazil’s armed forces, a figure that’s jumped 30 percent in the last five years.
Up until late last year, women were limited to technical positions. Now, new laws allow them to fight alongside men on the front lines, whether in combat or on a drug bust.
On Brazil’s largest television network, there’s even an entire show about police women: “Mulheres de Aca,” or “Women of Steel.” It follows four women in specialized units throughout their daily assignments, breaking down stereotypes in front of a primetime audience.
Deputy Renata Araujo is the head of Rio’s Internet investigation unit, where she and her team research cases and go into some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods to collect evidence.
“Even the criminal will test you as well,” Renata said. “They say, ‘Oh, she’s a woman, is she capable? I might be able to cheat her.’ This really happens.”
“Then they realize there is no difference between being a woman or a man,” she said.
CREDIT: Pedro Andrade and Joanna Suarez