Women and Media

A century of struggle
against sexism


Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo

The idea that “the major crisis since the 25th of April”  falling on Portugal again, was the last public statement left by Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, on 10th, July, 2004, one week before she died.

Maria de Lurdes Pintasilgo came directly from Corporative Chamber – one of the institutional bases of Estado Novo – to the second provisional government, as Social Affairs Minister.

Invited by Marcello Caetano, she presided the participation of women in Economic and Social Life work group, in the dependence of the state Secretary of Work and Insurance, and in the Corporation Ministry and Social Insurance.

Later, she is the first Prime Minister of a presidential initiative government – Nominated by Ramalho Eanes  - with the aim to rule the country until the next elections. This was the famous 100 days government that existed between July 1979 and January 1980. Pintasilgo took office as the first woman prime minister two months after Margaret Thatcher’s rise in the United Kingdom.

She was the first woman candidate to President of the Portuguese Republic, in the elections of 1986. That year, there were three left wing candidates: Pintasilgo, Mário Soares and Salgado Zenha. In the end, Pintasilgo achieved only 7,5% of the votes, even though there was a giant wave around her candidature.

After the defeat – Mário Soares wins the first presidential round -, Lurdes Pintasilgo is, in the following year, was elected deputy for PS in the European Parliament.

From a quick look trough the biography of Pintasilgo, the fact of being almost always the first woman in the fields she worked sticks out. First woman higher manager of the biggest national company of the era, CUF, in 1953. She was the first to practise, in 1974, a ministerial position, first to head a government, the first to run for presidency. Catholic, she founded in Portugal the movement Christian Grail with Teresa Santa Clara Gomes, her friend. Chemist engineer, she occupied high positions in several companies.