The African edition of the World Social Forum got underway Thursday, January 19, in Bamako, Mali. The Brazilian secretary of Policies to Promote Racial Equality, Minister Matilde Ribeiro, who is representing Brazil at the event, believes that the forum will be a good opportunity to intensify Brazil-Africa relations.
According to the Minister, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s visits to African countries have already served to draw Brazil and Africa closer in areas like politics, economics, education, labor, and health.
"Our effort has been to stimulate the government to push racial equality, in its actions, as a factor of social inclusion, in order to strengthen Brazil’s relations with these countries," Ribeiro explained.
The Minister recalled that an effort must also be made to dignify Brazilians of African descent. "We need to confer dignity on Afro-Brazilians as citizens and use culture, history, and an appreciation of Africa’s global geopolitical role to recover our African component," she affirmed.
Ribeiro commented that her participation in the Mali forum will help reinforce the dialogue between Brazilians and Africans. "The forum is a privileged space for debating the prospects for democracy," the Minister declared.
The World Social Forum, which was held for the first time in 2001, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, is distinguished by the search for alternatives to neoliberal policies.
This year’s African edition will end Monday, January 23. Minister Ribeiro took part in the panel, "The struggle of women from the South: ethics, politics, and decolonization of thinking."
She has discussed the situation of black women in South America and the Caribbean and presented the Brazilian government’s policies on gender and race.
This year’s World Social Forum, unlike the five previous editions, will be divided among three host cities: Bamako, in Mali, Caracas, in Venezuela, and Karachi, in Pakistan.