I was born in Rio de Janeiro, and together with my siblings, I grew up listening to my parents talk about social justice, rights and democracy. My father was a mathematician and owned an IT company, and my mother was a programmer. They encouraged me to travel and learn about other realities. When I was 7, we moved to Portugal, where we lived for three years. As a teenager, I had the opportunity to participate in an international organisation that introduced me to people from different cultures. These interactions broadened my horizons.
“We have a mission to transform the fashion industry, but this will only be possible when have we examined gender relationships. Only then will we succeed in promoting women’s rights, developing leaderships and achieving a fairer society”
Luciana Campello, programme manager, C&A Foundation Brazil.
While studying psychology at university, I began reading and researching women’s rights, and about social constructions of gender that affect men and women differently. With this in mind, I wanted to work in the field of social and community psychology, with a focus on gender equality. My first professional experience was at a non-governmental organisation – Ipas Brazil – which focused on promoting sexual and reproductive rights, and on combating gender-based violence. It was then that I realised that this was the path I really wanted to take. In 2003, I took a leave of absence from university and went to live in Australia to take a course in social and community development. During a lecture on the subject of migration, the lecturer mentioned the topic of human trafficking and the exploitative situations many women experience in their search for better living conditions in other countries. I had never heard about this before but couldn’t get it out of my head. I returned to Brazil and after meeting a Brazilian woman who had been trafficked to Israel and sexually exploited, I wrote my thesis on this topic. After graduation, I worked for four years at Trama, a consortium of organisations in Rio de Janeiro focused on combating human trafficking by promoting public policy on prevention and care for victims.
I returned to Australia in 2009, and there I dedicated myself to two initiatives with migrant communities, one with the elderly and was with caregivers of people with disabilities. In both initiatives, I saw clearly the gender inequality and how women’s roles as caregivers within the family and in the community was so ingrained, in addition to the violence they suffered.
Increasingly, gender equality – the idea that women and men should have equal opportunities, choices and knowledge – became the focus of my personal and professional attention.
Back in Brazil, I had the opportunity to work at the State Secretariat for Policies for the Women of Rio de Janeiro (Subsecretaria de Políticas para as Mulheres do Rio de Janeiro) and the Elas Social Investment Fund, on projects promoting rights and combating gender-based violence. In 2015, I moved to Brasilia to work for PAHO (Pan American Health Organization), the Americas branch of the World Health Organization. This coincided with the major Zika outbreak in Brazil, and once again women, this time women of reproductive age, were the most affected. The outbreak not only had a disproportionate impact on girls, but also reinforced racial and socio-economic disparities in access to health and restrictions on sexual and reproductive rights. A group of United Nations agencies, coordinated by PAHO/WHO, UN Women and UNFPA, recognised the importance of bringing together women’s organisations to engage in dialogue and identify strategies for action. It was intensive and necessary work, to ensure women and girls had appropriate information and treatment during this period.
Two years later, in 2017, I moved to São Paulo to work on the Programme to Combat Forced and Child Labour, and the Gender Justice agenda at C&A Foundation Brazil. With the mission of transforming the fashion industry, the foundation supports initiatives to combat slave-like working conditions, works to promote better working conditions for workers, promotes initiatives to encourage sustainable cotton and circular economy initiatives, always looking at new business models that can have a positive impact on the environment and on people’s lives.
The fashion industry mirrors the social and gender inequalities that exist in our society. We understand that transformation requires gender equity and combating discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, migration status, among others. Failure to acknowledge the existence of these challenges increases vulnerability and situations of violence against women and perpetuates exploitation in the fashion industry.
At C&A Foundation, we know that it is not possible to transform the fashion industry alone. Together with our entire team and partner organisations, I have the opportunity again to help women to transform their own lives and the lives of the communities they live in. Change happens when women are players and leaders in decision-making.
The above article is part of a series of profiles published in the Brazilian version of Marie Claire magazine, in partnership with C&A Foundation Brazil. The original version can be read here.