Marli Márcia da Silva
Fellow Since 2006
This profile was prepared when Marli Márcia da Silva was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Marli da Silva empowers poor single mothers to pursue the benefits of paternity for their children—both through amicable and legal means—with broad support from lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and local government. Her work establishes a comprehensive system to improve the lives of single mothers and their children by providing information, legal counsel, income generation, and even discounts on DNA paternity testing. Marli also enlists fathers who had abandoned but then returned to their families to bring similar fathers on board. At the same time, she is working to change the legal system, the policies underlying current practices, and society’s perception of single women and their plight.Approximately 1,600 families have benefited directly from Marli’s work and her efforts at the legal and policy levels are showing results in the State of Pernambuco. Legal procedures are both more efficient and just, as public attorneys, public prosecutors, and magistrates are involved. In a major recent victory, Marli successfully designated public funds for paternity tests and is on her way to implementing this as part of permanent policy.