Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Rousseff Backs Affirmative Action in Government



Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to support affirmative action quotas that will increase the number of Afro-Brazilians in government positions, an anonymous source close to the Executive told L’Agence France-Presse on Monday. While the percentages have not been defined, the quota system would apply to all new government contracts and employee openings.

A formal announcement of the measure is expected on November 20 to coincide with Brazil’s Day of Black Awareness. This law would build on the gender quota law, in effect since 2009, which calls for 30 percent of political candidates to be women. President Rousseff also championed the university affirmative action law, enacted on August 29, which reserves 50 percent of admissions to public universities for underprivileged public school students—the majority of which are of African, mulatto or Indigenous decent—over the next 10 years.

These quotas are meant to address what President Rousseff calls the country’s “historical debt” to a large sector of Brazilian society that has been underrepresented in higher education. Although Afro-Brazilians represent 53 percent of the country’s population, only 8,700 students of African descent attend public universities.

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