São Miguel Paulista is a district in the eastern portion of the municipality of São Paulo with nearly one hundred thousand inhabitants and a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.451, according to the UNDP Human Development Report (2011). The Tide Setubal has been working there since 2005 to improve the quality of life in that region. The community’s needs led the institution to incorporate gender issues into its programs.
“The Ação Família (Family Action) meetings are very warm and cozy. You feel you have a family and true friends who you can trust. I’ve learned a lot and discovered I had all I needed in my hands. It really increased my self-esteem. I have also moved into my own house, took the university contest, and got a scholarship to take a course on pedagogy. In one year I’ll leave the Ação Família. That makes me sad, but the time is coming for a new family”. (Roberta Oliveira Ferreira)
The HDI for the city of São Paulo is 0.805 (UNDP: MHDI Ranking 2010) and for Brazil is 0.718 (UNDP: Human Development Report 2011).
The inspiration for the Tide Setubal Foundation started 30 years ago, with Mathilde (Tide) de Azevedo Setubal. As the First Lady of the city of São Paulo she promoted development actions that were really innovative for that time: rather than focusing on charity, she emphasized the importance of integrating resources and partners. She believed this would build awareness about each citizen’s responsibility for their communities.
In 2005, Tide’s sons established the Foundation – a tribute to her. During the Foundation’s and Tide’s family’s history each generation had one woman who was always devoted to human development. Tide had only one brother; her daughter Maria Alice – the Foundation’s mastermind – was the only girl of seven children and, in turn, had two sons and one daughter, named after her mother, Tide. Tide’s granddaughter has already worked at the Foundation: she created the Menina Mulher (Young Woman) which later became the Mundo Jovem (Young World) program.
The Tide Setubal Foundation’s actions are oriented by three strategic objectives: (i) Grant greater protection to youth; (ii) Expand the scope of development actions; and, (iii) Strengthen the link with the city and its material and immaterial assets. The organization employs Tide’s vision: part of the work consists of mobilizing networks and agents in the territory and strengthening local institutions through the training of teachers and educators.
Moreover, the Tide Setubal Foundation’s activities include co-managing public spaces and services for youngsters and families, including sports, culture, communications, leisure and spaces for reflection on citizenship, violence, drug abuse, sexuality, etc. Through this, the organization promotes the sustainable development and social empowerment of São Miguel Paulista’s population.
The Tide Setubal Foundation started its work around one of the public spaces named after the first lady: the Tide Setubal Community Club that offered soccer for boys, among other activities. The first task was performed jointly with IBOPE and aimed to track the territory’s demands. There was huge inequality of access to development opportunities: boys could hang out, engage in sports or work beginning at a young age (underemployment), while all girls could do was go to school and, then, take care of their homes and siblings.
The Tide Setubal Foundation then established the Menina Mulher program to attract girls to the club. It promoted cultural tours and participatory, playful, and insightful workshops on topics like family, sexuality, health, and nutrition. Those activities served to strengthen the girls’ life plans and offered them more opportunities of leisure and culture, mainly by attracting them to the public facilities in the region. Moreover, sports activities have made room to hold debates about citizenship: female soccer coaches were hired, and other sports like volleyball and basketball have attracted girls.
As time went on the Menina Mulher became renowned and Tide Setubal Foundation started working at schools and other public facilities increasing integration with boys. The initial objective of attracting girls to the Club was considered to have been achieved. Then, the project was renamed as Espaço Jovem and participation of boys in the insightful workshops increased, while activities started to involve both genders at the same time, thus boosting and enriching debates.
In 2008, the methodology of working with adolescents was systematized in two publications1 and the program was named Mundo Jovem, focusing on adolescents 12 to 18 years old. Today the Club serves 1,200 youngsters a year and also offers cultural courses. The Mundo Jovem activities are also performed at another site co-managed by the Tide Setubal Foundation: The Culture and Citizenship Warehouse.
The foundation expanded its work and now offers courses to educators working at public schools and in the society; provides methodological and thematic advice to local organizations; and participates in community and youth forums in the territory. Gender-related issues remain at the core of the agenda as these are found in the seven specific topics worked on by the Mundo Jovem program: identity and diversity, body, sexuality, family, drug abuse, profession and work, and citizenship. This crosswise dimension is evidenced in the debates held by the youngsters, and in the training and publications promoted by the program.
The same happens with the Ação Família program, created by the Tide Setubal Foundation in 2006, and inspired and guided by the program of the same name sponsored by the Municipal Department of Social Assistance. The program aims to bring families closer to one another, and facilitates access to resources offered by the community (notably the school) and fosters demand for such resources.
The Ação Família program has five areas of focus: education, health, livability, job and income, and local solidarity.
The work is developed through home visits, registration, and socio-educational meetings with partners in the region. The services enable families to set goals based on the aforementioned areas of focus. These goals are pursued during the activities of support to families and other development-oriented activities like workshops. One example is the Jardim Lapenna Cooking School Workshop, established in 2008, which serves 500 women a year and delivers courses to insert women in the labor market; it provides education and professional training, and promotes economic entrepreneurship and income generation. Activities are held mainly at local schools and organizations, and in public spaces where the Foundation works (like the Culture and Citizenship Warehouse).
“The Ação Família program helped me as a citizen: I learned about helping neighbors and friends, and asking for help when I needed it. I started recycling. I got to know my neighborhood better, as well as the opportunities it provides. I concluded a vocational course in administration. My income increased working as a manicurist and reseller [of cosmetic products]. The new friendships were the main difference in my life. I’m about to conclude the program now, but leaving it makes me feel sad. I have to give my place to another person. But I would like to keep on attending the meetings, if I can”. (Maria de Fátima Rosa Pereira)
This program supports the development of 151 families in the region, and the main agent for the progress of those families is women: these are mothers (or grandmothers or sisters or aunts) that participate in the activities and foster the development of the remainder of the family members.
Both in the Mundo Jovem and in the Ação Família programs the importance of gender emerges more as a community need than as a goal of the Tide Setubal Foundation; even the creation of the Menina Mulher program was a response to the needs surveyed in the territory. In both cases the empowerment of girls and women has a strong psychosocial aspect2: help them to perceive themselves as citizens with the right to enjoy the resources and opportunities provided by the community, and to participate in the definition of public actions.
The Tide Setubal Foundation may have started working on gender-related issues because it listened to the needs of the community in São Miguel Paulista, but later it started approaching those issues in a strategic way. Thus it strengthens not only people more vulnerable due to gender issues, but also those who are, at the same time, the main development agents in São Miguel Paulista.
“Meetings were like a therapy session. I lost my fear of speaking and learned how to listen to others. Today I interact better in and out of my home. I’ve made a lot of friends and learned how to ask for help. My self-esteem increased and I now value my community. The Ação Família has also taught me to better organize a small house.. I have concluded the program and, unfortunately, cannot attend it again or I’ll take the spot of someone who needs it more. But I still take advantage of the training opportunities. Today I work at the reading site in the Warehouse. I like what I do and feel fulfilled every single day”. (Antonia Marlucia Martins Gomes)
One of the publications is devoted to educators (http://www. ftas.org.br/conhecimento/publicacoes/265) and the other is dedicated to youngsters (http://www.ftas.org.br/conhecimento/publicacoes/282).
Socio-educational meetings and young groups’ discussions are headed by psychologists.