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Vital statistics of women in São Paulo

Database consolidates information on female social identity in São Paulo

Women in the state of São Paulo are about to lay their hands on an important instrument for defending their rights. São Paulo is going to get a database on women, filled with maps, tables and graphs for the state’s 645 municipalities. For the first time, indicators from various sources have been organized in such a way as to work from the perspective of gender an analysis using social identities associated with the differences between the sexes. The work, with the title of Sociodemographic Profile of Women in São Paulo, but which is to be known by the name SPWomen in Figures, will be available from March 8th onwards, not by coincidence International Women’s Day. With it, the whole population will come to have access to information integrated into a single system, subject to constant updating. There are towns in the interior of São Paulo that have no specific data on the feminine question.

The work was carried out by the State System for the Analysis of Data Foundation (Seade), in partnership with the State Council for the Female Condition (CECF), under FAPESP’s Research in Public Policies Program. The database was one of the council’s demands, as it felt the need for a source of information capable of revealing the situation of women in the state, so as to be able to accompany and to formulate public policies. By means of SPWomen in Figures, it will be possible both to monitor each town in São Paulo and to get a view of the state as a whole. “The most important thing is to provide the municipalities with information to allow them to diagnose phenomena and formulate public policies capable of being implemented by the town halls, municipal councils and women’s associations. Ways open up for strengthening actions on gender in the social sphere”, says Maria Cecilia Comegno, from Seade, who is the project’s coordinator.

The work was split up into major areas: Population, Health and Reproductive Rights, Education, Job Market, Violence against Women, and Political Participation. To choose these themes, documents were studied from conferences that dealt with the female condition all over the world, besides discussing priorities with the CECF. The team from Seade tracked down all the available information, scattered and fragmented in various sources, to construct this service. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) is one of the collaborators – to be able to establish a comparison, the 1991 and 2000 Censuses are being used.

This database will be inaugurated on March 8th, but it will continue under construction until September. Even not being totally ready, it is already revealing significant information on the female situation in São Paulo. The finding is that there has been a reduction in the fecundity rate. On account of this, the age pyramid is tending to turn intoa barrel: the base will become narrow because of the reduction in the number of births, and the top will widen because the population is surviving longer (the elderly already account for 10% of the female population). “Starting with this finding, plans should be thought out for various sectors, like health, education and leisure”, explains Lúcia Mayumi Yazaki, who is responsible for the Population sector of the project.

The Health and Reproductive Rights sector just confirmed the tendency of a fall in fecundity. In 2000, the rate corresponded to 2.16 children per woman (in 1991, it was 2.4 children), and in the region that has the lowest level, São José do Rio Preto, it is 1.64 children per woman. Another finding is that 75 out of each 1,000 adolescents aged between 15 and 19 became mothers last decade. In Europe, some 10 in every 1,000 give birth. The cases of Aids in the state saw an expansion, in territorial terms. In 1991, 132 municipalities had cases notified of infected women. In 2000, this figure went up to 255. Its incidence amongst men is even higher – 29.9 per 100,000 men, while it was 15.1 for women. Zilda Pereira da Silva, from Seade, gives a warning about the situation of the girls, a theme of the Ministry of Health for the campaign for the use of condoms in the 2003 carnival: “From 1991 to 2000, the number of cases amongst adolescents has gone up”.

It is cardiovascular diseases that most kill women in São Paulo. They accounted for 36% of the deaths in 2001. In second place come the cancers. The highest incidence is breast cancer (14.5 per 100,000 women), followed by cancer of the intestine (7.6); lungs (6.6); stomach (5.9) and cervical cancer. When one takes into consideration the period from 1980 to 2001, cancers of the breast, lungs and colorectal region had increases of 60%, 79% and 74%, respectively. “The increase is due not only to women’s life style, but also to the aging of the population”, says Cecília Polidoro Mameri, responsible for this sector of the database. In third place come the deaths from complications of the respiratory apparatus, and, in fourth, endocrinological problems. External causes come in fifth place, with a surprising fact: considering the period from 1980 to 2001, the level of traffic accidents fell 30%, but homicides increased 120%.

The area of Education deals not only with women on the school benches, but children as well. Figures for 2000 show that assistance for the population from 0 to 6 years in age is still insufficient. In over half of São Paulo’s municipalities (379), the level of assistance is in the region of between 20.1% and 40%. In compensation, illiteracy has been falling. “Women are the greatest beneficiaries of the universalization of access to elementary schooling, since the 2000 Census, different from the 1991 one, points to illiteracy levels lower than those for men now in the 30 to 39 year age group”, says Catarina Aparecida Guarnieri Silvério, who responds for Education at Seade.

One of the good ways of finding out the inequalities between the male and female universes is to access the indicators in the Job Market. In 2001, women amounted to 38.3% of the 8,185,857 formally constituted employees in the state of São Paulo, against the men’s 61.7%. But this percentage grows in informal occupations – women represent 40% of the total, and, to a good degree, in domestic service. The percentage participating in the job market has been growing. It used to be 45% of the female population in 1995, went to 47% in 1999, and leapt to 48.5% in 2001. “In the metropolitan region of São Paulo it reaches 53%”, says Paula Montagner, from the Job Market area at Seade.

It is difficult to assess the area of Violence against Women, since many cases do not reach the police stations (126 São Paulo municipalities have specific police stations for the defense of women). The team from Seade opted for ascertaining the cases of rape (the only ones in which the victims are only women) and gross indecency (in which they are the majority). It was found that the numbers in the state are steady – the percentage of rapes per 100,000 went from 29.18 in 1997 to 26.90 in 2001. For Renato Sérgio de Lima, from Seade, as the level is stable, public policies should affect the medium and long term. “Strategies are needed to win over the trust of the population and, at the same time, to combat criminality.”

In the area of Political Participation, it was found that the number of female candidatures for federal deputies increased 27.9%, compared with 1998. Even so, not all the parties filled their quotas (at least 30% and at most 70% for each sex). There was a small increase in elected candidates: in 1998, there were four, and, in 2002, six. In the Legislative Assembly, the volume of female candidatures grew 37.5%, compared with 1998. In 2002, ten of them were elected – in the previous elections, there were seven. But woman power is greater in the Chambers of Councilors. Last year, 13,317 women put forward their candidacies, representing 20% of the total, and 812 of these were elected.

There is a world of information in SPWomen in Figures, and the concern of the technicians at Seade is that they should be shown in a simple way, to facilitate usage. Members of the CECF have already carried out tests to assess navigability and given their approval. “The table does not come ready, finished, you can set it up the way you want to, according to your interest”, says Maria Aparecida de Laia, who presides the council, and will not be the only “consumer” of this valuable source of information. The electronic address, available from March 8th, is: http://www. or

The project
Sociodemographic Profile of Women in São Paulo (nº 00/02038-5); Modality Research in Public Policies Program; Coordinator Maria Cecilia Comegno – State System for the Analysis of Data Foundation (Seade); Investment R$ 100,045.55