First Lady: What is the role of this position in Brazil?
The First Lady officially has no role other than hostess at the Palácio da Alvorada, but tends to be involved in social causes.
THE First ladyin the case of Brazil, is nothing more than the hostess of the Palácio da Alvorada, the official presidential residence and, of course, the wife of the acting president. Therefore, theoretically, she does not have any pre-established function of her own, and therefore, she is not entitled to receive any type of salary.
However, even if she officially has no function, not least because it is not possible to hold a position for which she was not elected, it has already become a tradition for the wives of presidents to engage in social programs and charitable and voluntary actions.
Incidentally, the figure of the first lady is inspired by the republican traditions of countries like the United States and France. And despite having its historical variations, there is a profile quite similar to ours.
The first first lady of Brazil was Dona Mariana da Fonseca, wife of Deodoro da Fonseca, the first president of our country. Currently, the title belongs to Rosângela Lula da Silva, Janja, wife of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
What is the First Lady?
Firstly, the so-called first lady of the country is the wife of the acting president. Thus, she receives the title of hostess of the Palácio da Alvorada, which is where the president resides. So, officially the president’s wife has no job or pre-established function.
But that does not prevent the first lady from being present in the political and social life of the country, which is what we are currently experiencing. Today, the person in charge is Janja Silva, a position previously occupied by Michelle Bolsonaro, Marcela Temer, Marisa Letícia, Ruth Cardoso and Rosane Collor.
Does the First Lady have a role?
In addition to hosting the presidential residence, officially not. Even because, as we explained above, there is no way to assume a position with a political function without having been elected by the people.
However, a few years ago all presidents’ wives, or at least most of them, took part in some social work aimed at specific causes.
For example, former First Lady Michele Bolsonaro who did work linked to the social inclusion of people with disabilities. She was even the first wife of a president to speak at the Palácio do Planalto parlor, at the presidential inauguration, in 2019.
Relationship of the first ladies with social work
In fact, this tendency for first ladies to become actively involved in social work began in 1942, with Darcy Vargas, wife of then-president Getúlio Vargas. At the time, Darcy founded the institution Legião Brasileira de Assistência, the LBA, which was intended to provide support to the families of soldiers who were sent to the Second World War.
The foundation operated with funds donated by entrepreneurs. And the LBA’s social work was extended to each of the country’s states, which were then under the responsibility of the state first ladies. Anyway, when the war ended, the organization remained active, and began to serve poor families, maintaining the tradition of being managed by the wives of governors.
Among the last first ladies, we had Michelle Bolsonaro Acting actively in causes for people with disabilities, Marcela Temer was an ambassador for the Happy Child program. Marisa Letícia, however, was not directly involved with any social cause of the type, but even so, she was very active in her husband’s political campaigns.
Origin of the post of first lady
This position given to the wife of the president of the republic, as previously mentioned, is inspired by the French and North American model. Thus, even with some circumstantial differences, the title has a very similar profile in the three countries.
So, technically the first woman to receive the title of first lady of Brazil was Mariana da Fonseca. She was the wife of the first president of Brazil, Deodoro da Fonseca, who was in office between 1880 and 1891. However, since then, this role has changed and evolved a lot.
Initially the first lady was just the palace hostess, however, over time, the wives of presidents began to become more actively involved in political campaigns and social causes. In addition to representing the chief executive in official ceremonies.
And more than that, the first ladies began to have a lot of influence, going far beyond fashion choices, to their opinions on political issues, having a really relevant role in the work of the president of the country.
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By the way, as a matter of curiosity, all the first ladies of Brazil are called Donas, due to the respect for the president’s wife.
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