Maria José Rosado Nunes

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2006


This profile was prepared when Maria José Rosado Nunes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Zeca works within the context of the Catholic Church to address some Catholic beliefs she feels are antithetical to feminist rights. From personal experience, Zeca knows that Catholicism can powerfully shape the thinking of many Brazilians, and understands that to empower women she must work with the Church rather than against it. Zeca spreads knowledge of the political and historical origins of Catholic doctrine to argue against its infallibility. She hopes that if women understand the context, they can make independent decisions about the appropriateness of certain beliefs for their own lives without feeling they are betraying their God by disobeying certain Catholic restrictions. Zeca’s ultimate goal is to prove to Brazilian women and larger society that women can adhere to Catholic beliefs and still exercise control of their sexuality and reproductive choices.
Zeca created Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir to serve as a bridge between religion and the feminist movement and to promote women’s rights to sexuality, contraception, and abortion. Zeca trains women leaders to teach their communities about the political and historical context of Catholic doctrine, promotes academic research and inquiry to further illuminate this subject, and encourages national debate on gender and religion.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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