- Age: 21
- | She/her/hers
Country of Origin:
Country of Residence:
Young people are undeniably powerful agents of social change, uniquely positioned to dismantle harmful practices both for the humanity and the planet. It is imperative to recognize youth as such not ignoring their diversity, but understanding how there are different barriers imposed in each lived experience. It is about time to provide the support, invest the resources and create the policies needed for us (who are both the present and the future) to deliver our full potential.
- Helena Branco
Helena is a young feminist activist from São Paulo, Brazil. She is pursuing a double major in International Relations and Public Policy at the Federal University of ABC. She began to advocate for girls’ rights at 16 years-old as the first Brazilian Teen Advisor for Girl Up. She was one of the coordinators of the movement Free To Menstruate, which introduced and passed more than 40 municipal bills and 9 state bills in all Brazilian regions. Her main interests are public policy development for women and youth, the role of youth-led mobilizing in advancing gender equality and innovation concerning menstrual rights (particularly in the Global South). She currently works with Advocacy for Girl Up Brasil.
What ignited your pursuit for gender equality?
Living in an extremely unequal country, actively questioning the rigid gender dynamics I observed, having my dreams confined to gender roles, living with a constant fear of violence, ultimately perceiving the lack of quality public policies regarding gender justice and the derisory low percentage of women in parliament.
Please share your biggest wins as an advocate for gender equality.
Free to Menstruate, a movement led by girls for menstrual justice (Since 2020): Besides helping coordinate the passing of bills all over the country, I planned, organized and executed the event “Girls in the plenary: Achieving Menstrual Dignity” held in November 2021 at the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo. A year later, representing the movement, I was on the forefront of mobilizing against the presidential veto on delivering menstrual products. I was invited as a presenter in a Public Hearing held in the Women's Rights Commission at the House of Representatives in Dec/2021 about the presidential veto on delivering free menstrual products, which was taken down in March of 2022. #YourVoteMatters, a fun and audacious campaign for the young vote (2022): I helped co-create a hybrid campaign that aimed at getting young people with elective vote to register for the presidential elections of 2022. The online platform of the campaign took more than 90K people to the official election registering website. Though there were countless organizations working towards getting people registered, we achieved something unprecedented: a record registration of more than 2 million young voters, from which 55% were girls (also a record!).
Outside of your gender equality advocacy work, what do you enjoy doing?
Going out for quality time with those I love or staying in with my cats.
- English (Advanced/Native)
- Portuguese (Advanced/Native)
- Spanish (Intermediate)
- youth rights advocacy
- (young) women's political participation
- girls' rights
- menstrual justice
Past Awards, Certifications, or Fellowships:
- Selected Girl Up and UNF Representative and Panelist at Women Deliver Conference (2019)
- Speaker at the Girl Up Leadership Summit (2019)
- Girl Up Leadership Summit (2018-2019)
- Latin American Leadership Academy Bootcamp
- Session of International Affairs and Globalization of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program
- SISA-Mujeres Activando Certification by the Academia de Innovación Política (Academy of Political Innovation) of Asuntos del Sur.
- Girl Up Teen Advisor
- Ashoka Young Changemakers Finalist