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Internacional women’s day: women face challenges to make a difference in the fight for the preservation of the environment


On the day that International Women’s Day is celebrated (March 8), REM Mato Grosso (from English, REDD for Pioneer) talks with women who are in strategic professional positions in preserving the environment in the state. Each in their own way, they tell their stories of overcoming to make a difference in the struggle to keep the forest standing.



Lawyer Mauren Lazzaretti is at the head of the Secretary of State for the Environment (Sema-MT) – one of the most important portfolios of the Government of Mato Grosso. As a woman, Mauren understands that the effort is doubled, as she has to develop excellent work, while at the same time seeking a balance with her personal life.

Secretary Mauren surveys the area of ​​deforestation in the Colniza region, in the extreme northwest of Mato Grosso. Credit: Mayke Toscano/Secom-MT

“For us women, giving up family and health is always very sacrificing. So, every day we have to make a huge effort to try to make all these actions compatible, continue to maintain serenity, and also remain sensitive people. Because this is what sets women apart, the ability to have empathy, sensitivity, care, dedication and promptness in those actions we do”, highlights the manager.

She also points out that, most of the time, she is highly respected by her co-workers at Sema-MT. However, she considers that the Environment is still a predominantly male space.

Secretary commands men during an operation to combat illegal deforestation in the state. Credit: Mayke Toscano/ Secom-MT


“So, it is inevitable that in some places I still experience situations of discrimination. Sometimes it’s that behavior of doubt about your role or your competence or condition of doing a good job in front of an agency like Sema, which has such a relevant role for the State”, assesses Mauren.


Resilience and emotional intelligence

The biologist and coordinator of the REM MT Program, Lígia Vendramin, also had to go through these prejudices of structural machismo. Many times, she says that she was upset with harassment in the work environment, but that didn’t stop her from moving on.

“I built a lot of resilience and developed emotional intelligence from these bad experiences. That was the way I found to face machismo”, highlights Lígia.

Lígia Vendramin, coordinator of REM MT. Credit: Secom-MT

In Mato Grosso, the REM MT is one of the main State policies in the fight against illegal settlement, especially in the Amazon. Therefore, she emphasizes that being in charge of a program of this magnitude is challenging, regardless of gender, but the fact of being a woman helps her to deal with very different situations that the position requires.

“I think that women, as a rule, have a very refined sensitivity. And it helps to face different types of situations with people of different opinions and ideologies. And REM MT has precisely this characteristic, as we dialogue with different audiences: from commodity producers to indigenous communities, for example,” she highlights.

Lígia (center) receives Environmental Protection Merit Medal – one of the highest honors of the Police Battalion
Military Environmental Protection (BPMPA) of Mato Grosso. Credit: BPMPA


In Cotriguaçu, in the Northwest region of Mato Grosso, we have the environmental engineer Silvana Inês Fuhr. The success of the extractive activity in the region passes directly through her hands, who was the author of the Cutiando project, supported by REM MT, which brought new funding possibilities to the Association of Brazil Nut Collectors of PA Juruena (ACCPAJ).

Currently, the project makes it possible for the association to buy equipment to process its nuts and in this way add even more value to the product that is already sold nationwide.

Silvana Fuhr, environmental leader in the Cotriguaçu region. Credit: Personal Archive.

Today Silvana is established as an environmental engineer, in one of the regions most pressured by deforestation in the state. But it was not always so. She remembers her first important job, when she had to face a lot of prejudice, including from women, and male gazes of disapproval in a profession occupied mostly by men.

“When I spoke at the first meeting, the women involved in the project commented: wow! she knows how to speak… How can she speak?! I studied hard to know what I know. Already some male colleagues made mean comments about me to the boss whenever they had the opportunity. It’s a good thing my boss, at the time, was always an enlightened person and didn’t get carried away by it,” she recalls.

Silvana guides extractive family in the Northwest of Mato Grosso. Credit: Personal Archive

Indigenous protagonism

Machismo also crosses the professional trajectory of teacher Kaianaku Kamaiura. She was always one of the few women who participated in political meetings in the Indigenous Land of the Kamaiura people, in Alto Xingu-MT. Her role ended up bothering many people in her own community.

Kaianaku Kamaiura is one of the main indigenous leaders of Fepoimt. Credit: Personal Archive

“The meetings were always led by the chiefs and there was very little participation by women. At that time my husband also worked at school, he was a teacher, but his family did not accept that I was in a higher position than his. I faced a lot of hardship, such as slander and accusations against my reputation. She was seen as a vulgar woman for being in the midst of men. I ended up breaking up,” she reports.

Kaianaku always faced prejudices head-on and continued to carry out projects to change the social reality of his people. So much effort was worth it. In recent years, she has been invited to occupy a series of important positions, including the Superintendence of Indigenous Affairs of the Civil House of Mato Grosso, in 2018. She is currently one of the main leaders of the Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Mato Grosso (Fepoimt), occupying the position of technical advisor for team management.

Kaianaku during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit: REM MT

“My trajectory is marked by discrimination, for the simple fact that I was a woman. But today I feel much stronger, because there are many of us and we are conquering spaces traditionally occupied only by men. Machismo will always exist. That’s why we women really need to be committed to each other. To unite when one of our people is attacked, because the roots of machismo are very deep in non-indigenous society and it is reproduced by us indigenous as well”, argues the Kamaiura leader.


by Marcio Camilo / REM MT