Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter


Brazil, Domestic Workers, Participatory Budget, Participatory Democracy, Porto Alegre, Race


Brazil is a nation that has professed to be a `racial democracy' such that race categories are not recognized. This implies that every citizen experiences equal access from a political, social and economic point of view, irrespective of skin color. Nevertheless, palpable racial inequalities exist in Brazil such that there is a primarily white elite class while Brazilians of African descent are typically poor. Male dominance is a worldwide phenomenon. When racial inequities are coupled with male dominance, Brazilian women of African origins suffer as they occupy the lowest socio-economic strata, which often remand them to work as domestics. Some scholars have hypothesized that a participatory democracy model can bring about a shift in these women's lives. Using the participatory budgeting model that was implemented in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 as a point of reference, this paper analyzes the official socio-economic indicator census data for years 2001, 2005 and 2009 in the region. The analysis contends that a participatory democracy model has not brought about any significant change in the position of nonwhite Brazilian female domestic workers in Porto Alegre. The assumption can be made that a participatory democracy model implemented nationwide will not ameliorate the conditions of nonwhite Brazilian women working as domestics. Therefore, other strategies should be identified by the Brazilian Government to address the disparate conditions of these women who have been showcased as neo-slaves in the international community.