In the Yoruba1 language, Yalodê is the word used to refer to women who represent and speak in the name of other women, who emerge as political leaders, agents of transformation, who are emblematic in the development of their community, in the defense of rights, in the maintenance of cultural and religious traditions, and in challenging the status quo, fighting against the stratified powers of the dominant order – male centered, euro centered, based on the capitalist exploitation of peoples and nature2. This was the word chosen to give a local name to the Women-Gov project in Brazil, so that it can be instantly understood and easily pronounced by its participants and their communities. The Yalodê is a warrior, and anyone can immediately associate the concept to the group of women who are engaged in this initiative: strong, determined, prepared women, ready to raise questions, point out concerns, propose alternatives, lead processes, commit to the urgently needed changes in our societies.
With this group of Yalodês one cannot avoid feeling amazed by the huge knowledge of these women. They are the ones who lead processes of development and political action in their communities, to whom people come in search of orientation and advice, who are experts in establishing limits and raising the bar in terms of the defense of people's rights – especially women. The Yalodês usually offer their homes, their words, their time, their faith and their ancestral knowledge in favor of the collectivity. Never marginalized, even when socially excluded: they are the centers of resistance, they are the epicenter of movements which reallocate power, make visible asymmetries, provoke reaction. A high level of awareness, clarity and purpose can be reached when one has the opportunity to be amidst these women. Listening to them, we are faced to the level of our responsibility while aiming to help them amplify their voices and overcome institutional barriers for the full exercise of their roles and capacities, in all levels of decision making processes that concern their social groups. An important work is ahead of us. We'll do our best to deserve the confidence they're depositing in our team.
Graciela Selaimen, Coordinator of the Women-Gov project/Yalodês project in Brazil, Instituto Nupef