In the small town of Vila Castelo in the Brazilian state of Para, population 860, fisherwomen are the backbone of the community. As a bastion of artisanal fishing, the state of Para is the top producer of fish in the country. Local officials are mainstreaming gender considerations through a fiscal education project that trains women, who make up 58% of the town population, on fiscal management. In Para, women do not only fish; they are also key players in efforts to overhaul their trade and shift it from an informal to a formal industry.
The name Brazil is likely derived from the Portuguese name for the Brazilwood tree, which once dotted the country’s coastline. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, the fifth-largest country in the world by both area and population, and home to the largest Portuguese–speaking population in the world. Yet it is also home to high rates of inequality and poverty—the country has the highest rate of rural poverty in South America. In the thousands of favelas, or slums, that exist throughout the country, whole communities live trapped in poverty, in fear of violent crime, and excluded from a broad range of social services.