Brazil | ActionAid UK

Samira, eight, with twin brother Samir in the Maré favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lianne Milton/Panos/ActionAid


ActionAid began work in Brazil in 1999. We teach women and children about their rights to basic services such as healthcare, clean water and education – while working alongside local government to make sure these services are provided.

What we do in Brazil

Educating children in the slums 

ActionAid supports community projects to keep children off the streets and out of drug gangs. Thousands of children and their families attend our classes, enjoy cookery, music and sport, and receive extra tuition to ensure they can finish their education.

Protecting girls from sexual exploitation

Each year, tens of thousands of migrant workers flock to Pernambuco state, in northeast Brazil where there is large-scale prostitution. Poverty is driving girls as young as 12 to work as prostitutes to earn a living

Through a mixture of therapy and education, ActionAid is helping girls to learn their rights and discover the self-confidence to say no to sexual exploitation. Empowered, these girls are going on to raise awareness and galvanise their communities to find other ways to make money.

Coping with drought

When faced with drought, the lives and livelihoods of entire communities are at stake. ActionAid supports families living in drought prone areas to grow food, keep animals and protect their environment. By installing rainwater collection tanks, showing communities how to make natural fertiliser and providing seeds and fruit tree seedlings ActionAid is helping communities become more resilient in the face of drought.


ActionAid youth leader Carla

ActionAid youth leader Carla, 15, is one of many young people sharing messages of empowerment to avoid sexual exploitation within her community

Photo: ActionAid

Why we work in Brazil

With a population of 200 million, Brazil is the largest country in South America. A rising economic power, in recent years Brazil’s government has helped millions out of poverty by creating jobs and providing social welfare.

94.4% of children between seven and 14 now go to school. The proportion of young people in secondary education has doubled in the last 20 years and more and more adults and young people can read and write.

But, as the economy grows, the divide between rich and poor is widening. The richest 10% of Brazil’s population earn nearly half (43.5%) of the nation's income.

  • 25
    A woman is beaten by a man in Brazil every 15 seconds.
  • 9
    Only 9% of seats in parliament are held by women.
  • 44
    The richest 10% of Brazil’s population earn 43.5% of the nation's income.1

A third of the population of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo live in favelas, or slums. Poverty forces many young people into drug-related crime. Schools often shut down and parents are too afraid to let their children play outside.

Whether you live in the city or countryside, Brazil is an especially dangerous place to be a woman. A fifth of Brazilian women have suffered some kind of violence by men; a woman is beaten by a man in Brazil every 15 seconds.

How we're changing lives for good in Brazil

By empowering women and girls to know their rights, protect themselves from violence, and get the education they need, we're helping them have more control over their lives and shape a brighter future for them and their families.