About the Project

Madame Presidentá: Why Not U.S.? Chronicles the journey of two women, one from the U.S. and one from Rio de Janeiro, as they explore the key question of why so many other countries have elected female presidents before the United States. In the process they make important discoveries about new democracies, community, and women’s rights. The film is a collaboration of the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania, and ELAS: Women’s Social Investment Fund in Rio de Janeiro.

The film is now touring the country, at film festivals and at public screenings.

For a listing of upcoming screenings click here.

For information on how to bring the film to your community click here.

What made WGF & Heather want to do this?

Growing up, Heather Arnet’s grandmother, Vivian (now age 96), regaled her with stories of her great grandmother, Mary, the suffragette who marched the streets of New York for women to earn the right to vote. “You must vote in every election – large and small,” she’d say, “because other women fought and died for you to have that right.” Vivian’s secret dream – passed down from her mother – was to someday help elect the first woman president. In her lifetime, fifty women would run for President of the United States. None of them successfully.

Just two years after Hillary Clinton put “18 million cracks” in the American Presidential glass ceiling, Dilma Rousseff was sworn in as the 36th President of Brazil. In her first term, Rousseff worked to keep Brazil’s growing economy on track and presided over the country as it hosted the 2014 World Cup. Now the eyes of the world are on this world leader as she enters her second term in office facing an uncertain economic landscape and preparing to host the 2016 Olympics as President of Brazil.

“I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say yes, women can.”
– President Dilma Rousseff, victory speech, October 31, 2010

Dilma Rousseff, former Marxist guerrilla, Minister of Energy, and Chief of Staff is leading Brazil during a time of unprecedented economic growth and transition. Brazil, a country that is both energy independent and rich in natural resources has recently overtaken the UK to become the world’s sixth-biggest economy. It is a country on the rise, led by women.

Inspired by her grandmother’s story, Arnet traveled to Brazil in 2013 to interview women from different regions and socioeconomic backgrounds asking them to share their stories of how in the span of a single generation, this dynamic and beautiful country, went from historic poverty to historic riches; from rape in the streets to a woman in the Presidential palace.