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Women of April: Stories of the Revolution

Inspired by the emotions stirred by the 50th anniversary of April 25th, 1974, volunteers from Agora Aveiro conducted interviews with eleven women connected to Aveiro, allowing themselves to be moved by the stories of their experiences, before and after the Carnation Revolution.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 32 seconds

© Helder Berenguer

Prior to April 25th, 1974, Portugal was characterized by limited opportunities, low literacy rates, inadequate healthcare, and widespread poverty. Families endured significant hardships, as Maria Luísa remembers, “(...) As my mother had five children, each of us would stand in line and collect 1 kg of potatoes, bread, or rice.”

Our country was still plagued by profound social inequalities, wherein women were relegated to inferior positions and confined to traditional roles as mothers and housewives. Socially constructed norms enforced subservience and limited opportunities. Eugénia Pinheiro explained, “To travel or even have a bank account, women required their husband's authorization. Marriage status significantly impacted various professions; for example, a teacher could not marry someone of lower social status.” Consequently, many Portuguese people chose to pack their bags and emigrate in search of better prospects. Maria dos Anjos Silva's family relocated to Mozambique, while Filomena Machado ventured to Angola.

The dictatorial regime of Estado Novo upheld a patriarchal society where dissenting voices were suppressed and civil liberties were scant. Maria da Conceição da Rocha underscored this reality, stating, “If I had ever expressed anything negative about the regime... Just imagine what would have happened to me.” Fernanda Lucas recalled the pervasive censorship enforced by the infamous Blue Pencil, noting, “(...) people couldn't freely express themselves.” She recounted how magazines, despite their seemingly innocuous content, often contained veiled information, with some readers recognizing the subtext while others remained unaware, saying, “We read the newspapers, but we knew they weren't telling the whole truth.”

The Carnation Revolution not only toppled the authoritarian regime but also paved the way for freedom and equality. Maria da Conceição Simões expressed profound gratitude for the opportunities that have arisen since, while fervently hoping that democracy and freedom remain safeguarded, and that a return to an authoritarian regime never occurs again.

After the 25th of April, women were granted fundamental rights, such as the right to vote and pursue their desired professions without facing gender discrimination. Maria do Carmo reminisces with euphoria about her first voting experience, stating, “(...) I stood in a 2-hour queue, but I was determined to vote, even if it was just to mark the ballot where I desired.” Today, we recognize that societal aspirations evolve with time, and the availability of opportunities shapes the future. Maria Manuela leaves us with a powerful message: “Don’t be afraid and pursue what you love, because challenges are always opportunities for growth, aren't they?”

The hard-won freedom secured by the Captains of April on the twenty-fifth day of April must be cherished and safeguarded daily. As Rosa Gadanho poignantly reminds us, “Young women today have opportunities forged over the past decades, but there is still a long way to go. (...) Keep striving! Let us not succumb to the illusion that everything is within our grasp; we know our destination and the path ahead.”

As Zita Leal beautifully and simply reminds us, “April 25th was truly worth it. Embrace your womanhood fully; refuse to be subdued by anything or anyone. Never allow anyone to underestimate you simply because you are a woman.”

With “Histórias Cravadas”, we invite you to learn about the perspective of the women who gave voice to this project and to read their stories. Visit our exhibition at the Santa Joana Museum in Aveiro, where you can find her portraits and testimonies, open for viewing until May 8th. 

May the legacy of these women inspire us to never take our freedom for granted.

Long live the 25th of April!

“Histórias Cravadas” is organized as part of the “Refresh Your Mind” project. It has Plate - Estúdio Fotográfico, Moldura Minuto and Floricolor as Golden Partners. As Silver Partners, it includes Antiqualha, Caetano Auto and Associação Académica da Universidade de Aveiro. It is carried out in partnership with the Museu de Aveiro, Florinhas do Vouga, Paróquia da Vera Cruz and Escola Profissional de Aveiro. It is also supported by the Município de Aveiro and IPDJ - Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude, I.P..

Mariana Almeida