To better understand the complex issues related to women, migration and environment in Brazil, it is necessary to consider briefly the country's situation and, more specifically, the situation of the Brazilian women.
Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, with its 8,5 million sq. km (3,3 million sq. mi) and almost 160 million inhabitants, unequally spread over its five macroregions: Southeast, South, Northeast, Central West and North. (Annexes I and II) Some economic and social indicators show the complexity and diversity that coexist in our country: relative distribution of the population according to the regions: North 5.9%; Southeast 43.5%; Northeast 28.5%; Central West 6.8%; South 15.05%;
GDP regional contribution: Southeast 59.4%; South 17%; Northeast 13.8%; Central West 5.3%; North 4.3%;
the age profile of the population shows clearly a tendency to ageing as well as a decline in birth and death rates. There has been an evident tendency of decrease in the fertility of Brazilian women in the past decades. In the 60-70 decade the average was 6 children per woman; during the 70-80 decade it was reduced to 4.5 and in the 80-90 period fell to less than 3 children per woman (IBGE data Demographic Census);
One also notes an increase of the aged population (60 years old or more), from 6.4% in 1981 to 7.7% in 1990. The aged represented 6.7% of the female population in 1981 and 8.2% in 1990; whilst the population of aged males grew from 6.2% in 81 to 7.2% in 1990 (FIBGE data, 1993);
the average life expectancy was 65.5 years in 1990. (Annex III) However, actual data show major differences when we base the calculation on income groups: for the group earning up to one minimum wage, life expectancy decreases to 57.5 years while for the group earning more than 5 minimum wages it increases up to 73.4 years (Annex IV) (IBGE data, 1990);
as regards infant and child mortality, in an indicator showing the close relation between living conditions and the health of the population, the same disparities are present. For the overall population, in 1990, the mortality rate was 51.6 per thousand live births. The regional distribution, however, reveals a great variation: Southeast, 30 per thousand; Central West, 33 per thousand; North, 53.2 per thousand and Northeast, 88.2 per thousand. Correlating mortality rate to income, the figures are: 75.2 per thousand in families earning up to 1 minimum wage and 33.3 per thousand in families earning more than 1 minimum wage; (Annex V)
as for basic sanitation services, in 1990: 63.5% of the population had access to treated water in their households; 37.2% had sewage systems connected to the public disposal system, and garbage collection services were available to 61 % of the population. However, this distribution is very uneven if we compare urban and rural areas. There were 81.6% households with treated water supply in urban areas and 12% in rural areas; sewerage was available to 48.5% of the urban population and only to 5% of the rural population, and the garbage collection services were available to 78.5% in the urban areas (IBGE and PNAD data, 1990);
with regard to education, there are 20 million illiterates over 10 years old, distributed unevenly among the regions, according to income levels. In the South, the illiteracy rate for the population over 10 years old is 11%, while in the North this rate rises to 36%. The inequality in income levels is even greater: among young people aged from 10 to 14 with a per capita family income of more than 2 minimum wages the rate is 2.6%, while for youths with a per capita family income up to half a minimum wage this rate is 14 times higher (IBGE and PNAD rates, 1 990);
more than half of the population (55%) declares itself white, 5% black, 39% mulatto and 0.5% oriental. Illiteracy affects 12% of the white population, 30% of the black and 29% of the mulatto (IBGE and PNAD data, 1990);
the poverty dimension (the conditions of those whose income does not allow them to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, etc.) and indigence (the conditions of those whose income does not allow them to meet even the basic food needs) is as follows: there are more than 8.6 million of poor urban households and 2.8 million at the indigence level. About 45% of the indigents are to be found in rural areas, 40% are in non-metropolitan urban areas and 15% are found in metropolitan areas, with a concentration of indigent homes in the Northeast; (Annexes VI and VII)
two indicators related to labour conditions and which point to the phenomenon of the social differences in the country refer to the percentage of children at work and the income generated by work. 6.9% of children aged 10-14 work. In 1990, there were 7.5 million people aged 10-17 working in various activities, corresponding to 11.6% of the EAP - Economically Active Population (Annex VII)-more than 5% of the EAP consists of people aged 60-plus; (FIBGE data, 1993);
in the Northeast region there is the highest number of people working 40 or more hours per week and earning less than 1 minimum wage: 25% of the Economically Engaged Population (EEP). The Central West has 10.8% of the EEP, the South, 8.8%, the North, 8.6% and the Southeast, 8.2% (FIBGE data, 1993);
more than half of the population works in small enterprises, i.e., those employing 1 to 10 people, both in rural and urban areas (FIBGE data, 1993).
The data presented here outline a short panorama of the social and regional inequalities of Brazil.