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  • Members of the Landless Workers Movement protest the impeachment of Brazil

    Members of the Landless Workers Movement protest the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil, May 10, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 March 2017

Women held signs that read “We Are All Awake!” and “Against Capital and Agribusiness!”

In Brazil, International Women’s Day saw thousands of working-class women from rural parts of the country storm government offices against continued neoliberal austerity measures implemented by Michel Temer’s coup government.

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Protesters marched in several cities, chanting and holding signs such as “We Are All Awake!” and “Against Capital and Agribusiness!”

The Brazilian ruling class justify harsh austerity measures by saying they’re crucial to escape a fiscal crisis and recession. But activists say pension reforms, such as raising the minimum retirement age for rural workers to 65 years, will disproportionately affect poor women.

"Rural workers live on the margins," said Sejane Alexandre, a protester in Tocantins State in central Brazil's agricultural belt, as reported by Reuters.

"The rural worker does not have the same longevity and access to health care (as urban employees)," she said.

Farmers say they should be able to retire at a younger age than other workers because they are engaged in hard manual labor that feeds the urban population.

About 70 percent of the food consumed by Brazilians is produced by family farmers, according to the United Nations, but issues such as unequal land distribution and poor government services in rural areas are rife.

The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or the Movement of Landless Rural Workers, was a key organizer of the marches. In Sao Paulo, nearly 500 women showed up in protest. Women also showed up to protest in other major cities around the country.

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