Women's Organizations and Imperial Ideology under the Estado Novo

Irene Flunser Pimentel, "Women's Organizations and Imperial Ideology under the Estado Novo," Portuguese Studies, Vol. 18, (2002), pp. 121-131, Modern Humanities Research Association. (excerpt)

 Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina , November, No. 43, 1942.

Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina, November, No. 43, 1942.

One of the major concerns of Salazar’s Estado Novo in Portugal, after the institutionalization of the regime by the Constitution of 1933, and the creation in the same year of the political police (PVDE), the Secretariat for National Propaganda (SPN) and the first structures of the corporative system, was the desire to organize sections of the population by age and sex. In 1936, therefore, during a period of fascist recrudescence related to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, a paramilitary militia, the so-called Portuguese Legion (LP), and women’s and youth organizations were created: Obra das Maes pela Educacao Nacional (OMEN), Mocidade Portuguesa (MP), and Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina (MPF).

After the foundation of Obra das Maes and Mocidade Portuguesa (MP), Carneiro Pacheco approved the written constitution of Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina (MPF) in December 1937. Initially it was subordinate to OMEN. While military instruction was one of the major concerns of the Mocidade Portuguesa, the MPF were expected to ‘ter em conta as circunstancias especiais de sexo’. (2)

The MPF, with its leadership staffed by women, proposed to educate girls through ‘educacao moral, cyvica, fysica e social’. (3) As the education minister would say, ‘a cada um o seu lugar’. (4) Youth organizations were also segregated by sex in this way. Young girls were therefore circumscribed in a female world, apart from a brief period during childhood. The MF made explicit the different natures of the two organizations, female and male...