This chapter looks at the challenges of creating spaces for women to engage in politics in Brazil using a longitudinal study approach spanning the period between 1988 to 2011. It shows that despite the implementation of policies intended to enhance women’s broad political representation such as the introduction of affirmative action and a comprehensive decentralisation policy, political parties, the gatekeepers, are stalling women’s entry into politics.
The discovery that they cannot instrumentalise the quota to bring in compliant women who will tow the party line has made them turn their backs on letting women in. What emerges in this context is the centrality of the family in opening pathways for women to accede to power. This poses a dilemma for women who enter politics since they cannot deny the patriarchal structures that brought them to power yet must find ways to discover and act upon their own political agency.