The Movimento Feminino pela Anistia (Feminine Movement for Amnesty or MFPA) was a women’s political activist movement founded in São Paulo in 1975. Its members’ goal was to spread awareness about the importance of amnesty to all political prisoners and exiles of the 1964 Brazilian military dictatorship as a path to re-democratization. The group was arguably the most significant amnesty movement during the years of repression. This project contends that through its rhetoric of maternalism and political activities respectively, the MFPA created a political space that privileged women’s voices while contributing to a narrative that centralized male agency and men’s bodies. Through the analyses of letters, conference papers and its creator’s, Terezinha Zerbine, testimonies, it establishes how the MFPA becomes a leading political movement in opposition to the military regime through its maternalist rhetoric. Furthermore, it explores the relationship between martyrdom and motherhood in the MFPA’s discourse. Finally, it considers the possibilities and limitations of the MFPA’s maternalist rhetoric for lower class women and women of color, as well as what it means to think about the movement’s history in feminist terms.


Holt, Katherine

Second Advisor

Biro Walters, Jordan


History; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Brazilian military dictatorship, Movimento Feminino pela Anistia, martyrdom, maternalism, Brazilian feminism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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