20 years old
Cláudia Vasconcelos is a 20-year-old peer educator with Grupo Curumim, a feminist organization based in the city of Recife, in northeastern Brazil. Born and raised in Recife, Cláudia first began working with Curumim at the age of 13, when she participated in the organization's program for local adolescents designed to build self-esteem, provide vital information on sexual and reproductive health, and offer opportunities for young people to participate in the formation of local health policies. Today, Cláudia works with young people in the Cunhatã project part-time, and is a full-time secondary school student. The International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) has supported Grupo Curumim since 1994, serving as the primary supporter of the Cunhatã project since its inception in 2001.
Cláudia Vasconcelos: I never had a happy moment in my childhood—all of my memories are of violence. I grew up in an environment where my mother was beaten by my father. more>>
IWHC: What are some of biggest challenges facing women and young people in Brazil today?
CV: IWHC is important because it enables Curumim to do the work that makes Curumim important. And Curumim is important because it gets young people thinking about critical issues from a very early age, by exposing young people to many different ways of thinking and encouraging them to find the way that works best for them. In that way, Curumim is kind of like a liberal mother that presents her children with all the possibilities. This is so important, because it empowers young people.
CV: I have a lot of expectations for myself in the future, both personally and professionally. First, if I have children, I want to raise them in a way that diminishes gender differences and promotes equality, at least inside my own home. I want to study journalism, so that I can contribute to stopping censorship and restrictions on communication and information. I believe I'll never stop being a militant until the day I die.
CV: The world will be wonderful, because it won't have rights violations and people will be respected no matter their color, sexual orientation, or what they decide to do with their lives. It will be a society with less violence—because I believe that violence comes from inequality. All people will be educated, so that they know about their rights and can demand that those in power fulfill their commitments to good education and good health care. That is what all of us at Curumim hope for, and what I hope to see one day.