Maria José Jaime
Fellow Since 1994
INESC Instituto de Estudos Sócio-Econômicos
This profile was prepared when Maria José Jaime was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
When the Movement for Ethics in Politics succeeded in ousting President Collor for corrupt practices, Maria José Jaime played a key role in convincing the Movement to shift its focus to the problem of economic and social inequality as a key obstacle to Brazil's continued democratization. The result was a national campaign of "Citizens' Action against Hunger and Poverty and for Life."The anti-hunger campaign that the Movement launched is now sweeping Brazil. For the first time in Brazilian history, it has brought together civic groups, corporations, social activists and ordinary citizens in an unprecedented display of goodwill through private sector donations, neighborhood soup kitchens, bike-a-thons and cultural events to raise money to feed the poor. Although the organizers of the campaign are fully aware of the palliative nature of such efforts, they see it as a means of heightening awareness of the problems of the country's poor and excluded citizenry and stimulating appropriate public policy responses.In its initial stages, the campaign was developed on a highly decentralized basis, and more than 5,000 committees sprang into action at the state and local levels. But for the continued effectiveness of the campaign both in combating hunger and poverty and in achieving its awareness-enhancing and policy-influencing goals, Maria José recognized that an effective national coordinating framework was essential. Accordingly, in late 1993, she established a national executive secretariat for the Citizens' Action initiative, and now, as its national coordinator, she is helping the state and local groups share their experiences and develop concerted efforts to promote appropriate governmental actions.