Nova Série






Maria de Lourdes Ruivo da Silva Matos Pintasilgo nasceu em Abrantes a 18 de Janeiro de 1930 e morreu em Lisboa a 10 de Julho de 2004, foi engenheira química, dirigente eclesial e política. Foi a única mulher que desempenhou o cargo de primeiro-ministro em Portugal, tendo chefiado o V Governo Constitucional, em funções de Julho de 1979 a Janeiro de 1980. Foi também a segunda mulher primeiro-ministro em toda a Europa, dois meses depois da tomada de posse de Margaret Thatcher.
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Confidences of women

In the 50s, I lived my twenties. It was a time of intense life, activities, interests, in the emotions. It was a time of intense life, in activities, interests, emotions. I often had the feeling that I was reaping the fruits before having seeded them.

In the 50s, I was a student of Técnico, I have finished the course, have approached the professional life. I started the research on nuclear energy - I had the task of studying methods for the determination of U235 in uranium ores existing in Portugal. (At the time, internationally, the young professionals who were devoted to nuclear physics questioned themselves on whether "the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" legitimized the work in an area that had produced Hiroxima.i.) Then, was the participation in the reality of the industry, the entry in the technical world, highly competitive, of the Union Manufacturing Company. There, I was part of a pioneering team that was taking its first steps in organizing industry scientific research in Portugal. With my teammates, we were looking for the theoretical foundations for the resolution of practical problems which until then were resolved in Portugal by recourse to foreign experts. It was incumbent upon me the systematic analysis of the scientific literature with implications for the various branches of the company and, in this context I published every fortnight the bibliographic cards of the research activities that had impact on the production and manufacture control work; I launched the publication of the magazine Industry; I organized weekly, colloquiums of scientific update for the management of the company. My life framework was then the week of forty-eight hours of work, the pollution of the working-class neighbourhood next to the factories and, later, the three hours of transport between Barreiro and Lisboa...

In the 50s - I was twenty-four years old -I lived full independence from the family. Another home, another place. It was not usual: girls just left the family home when they married. This was the time that I learned how to organize everything by myself, alone – an experience that millions of women would have years later, taken by the "wave" of the women's movement. It was also the time that I discovered that there were other structures of community life to create and invent, through enlarged coexistence, mutual aid, dissemination. If the nuclear family was not, for some of us, the life framework, was still less the closed universe of a house populated by "things", leaving on the threshold of the door the care and responsibility for others ...

In the 50s, I discovered Christianity linked to life, leading to a great social commitment and based on what we called "the intellectual vocation". We were several generations, coming from all the faculties of Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra (the only universities, of that time) wanting to transform the University, wanting to put it at the service of society, to demand of ourselves a life devoted to others, through the "thought" and that we called then "the well-done service ethics". We did in 1953 a great National Congress with two thousand students from all universities and an inquiry about twenty-five per cent of the student population. We thought that we would change everything!

In these years, I have organised dozens of meetings, conferences, and drove working groups. I learned the methodology of intellectual work, and assuming my responsibilities that widen beyond the traditional tasks of my own limitations, I learned the requirements of leadership. For four years, I was president of JUCF - meetings/seminars/ holiday camps/publications and all weekends filled, filled. It was a Catholic culture - a subculture in the life of the country - but where young women (between 17 and 25 years) learned by themselves to plan, to have strategies, to deepen the big issues. The laity represented then in the Church a great strength - and the women used it.

In the 50s, I intoxicated myself with literature and music. I studied and worked at the sound of “Emissora 2” (with the first salary I bought the pick-up and the first record: the concert No 3 for piano and orchestra of Prokofiev) and stayed until late hours immersed in the reading of Gertrude von le Fort, Francois Mauriac, Paul Claudel, Bemanos, Péguy. Universes of absolute passion, affection perversion in the same exaggeration, sacrifices without sublimation, the gift of self in the exaltation of the work performed, the mystic crossing the thick density of violent affections. It was also the time of “Diários de Miguel Torga”, of his poems and of national identity that he was unveiling, travelling through the country, inch for inch, and to recognize the stones and the people. For my generation, the poetry scored events, emotions, states of soul. The Attica published the poetical works of Fernando Pessoa. And how could young engineers, to live - they thought... - A new phase in the country's life, not to let themselves be taken in by this another engineer, who was Álvaro de Campos?

It was also in the 50s that was born and grew up in me what would be a deep conviction about the role of women in society. My female friends of the time of University made decided options. The vast majority intermarry with colleagues, had the first child and were at the same time professionals of great competence. Girls had a friendship of intense sharing, joint projects, of ideal analysed and discussed, of endless letters. With the boys an unpretentious fellowship, and, in many cases, a friendship that became stronger in implicit recognition of the difference between the sexes and that manifested itself in a certain relationship containment. The game of words, the pleasure of irony with different weapons, the dialog of ideas crossed by emotions and affections - the music of the relationship between the sexes it fell in a varied range of signs without translation in the customs of today.

Through the University Social Action and, later, in the manufacturing environment, I realized that the women lived not only sexually, discriminated by men but dominated by them, in ways that violated all the dignity of the human person. In workshops only to women, the foremen demanded silence face to all sorts of sexual blackmail. The JOCF - very strong labour movement – was not afraid to denounce one case after another. Then I realized that the condition of the workers, which led me to the engineering, overlapped, in the case of workers, their condition of women. The physical conditions of work were unacceptable; abortions came to reach six or seven for each woman working in factories - was a marked distress in aged faces of women who had not reached yet the age of 30 years. But the sexual violence went further and the fight against the causes of prostitution took very different aspects. The few parliamentarian women were rather tired of 'denounce in the National Assembly the prostitution. But it was in the Catholic subculture that was sought to find the socio-economic roots of the problem and that appeared some "prophets" with bold initiatives.

It has been in the 50sthat I began to live the "dimensions of the world": the discovery of a near and distant Europe, Latin and Anglo-Saxon, the exaltation of the first friendships with people from other lands who gave human physiognomy to that until then was only geography. (How we were thrilled with Jean-Christophe of Romain Rolland, where merged and completed the Latin aspect and the aspect of Germanic Europe).

In 1957, the year of the first independence of an African country, Ghana, chaired in Accra to the 1st Seminar for Catholic Students of the Universities of South Africa of the Sahara. I received N'Krumah, I made a welcome speech - and, on my return to Lisbon, I was called to the various authorities of the time to justify my enthusiasm for the independence of colonized countries... I don't know what have marked me more in this first contact with Africa - if the felt for the first time what is the breath of the tropical forest that at night "speaks" and feel grow, if the baffled at a country that started to be it, and the questions that were born: what is more important to do? Where to start? - Only schools of agriculture, medicine, engineering? Or also the humanities, law, things which do not seem immediately useful? In the seminar participated the first generation of university students from black Africa. Makerere College, with a mere ten years, seemed already an 'old' university...

After Africa, came my first contact with Latin America, in El Salvador. Over there, another perplexity: how to adjust my incipient ideas and theories about the development, to the huge gap between those who have everything and those in the city centre jostled to try to sell here a fruit, a piece of craftsmanship, that could guarantee them the necessary to kill the hunger?

In that decade, dates still my encounter with the United States. Took place in a very special framework: the discovery of life and of social expressions and the cultural movement of the Grail. And even now I do not know if the creativity that seduced me was a general environment (if it would be in an America still affected by McCarthyism or by conservative ideas about the place of women in society?) or generalize to the whole of America which I found in one of the groups with higher intellectual dynamism and, at the same time, as one of the most radical and pioneering proposals for alternative forms of society.

In the 50s, I experienced a decisive phase of my understanding of the world and of my relationship to the events, to work, to things. Stimulated by the teachers and exceptional colleagues, I was looking for the meaning of the laws of the physical universe, the degree of similarity between the processes that were within the subject and those who had place in society or even between two people. Fascinated me the conceptual universe that opened up the fundamental equations of Physics, "knew" that everything. Moves by quantum leaps, that each statement is a statement of probability, that the "energy" is, at the same time, a material reality and an immaterial reality. It began for me the analogical thought that I would help the "circular" between various forms of knowledge - and that, in a special way, would help to deepen the Christian Faith. And yet, at another level, was taking shape in me an interdisciplinary approach which, having of course its root in exact sciences, would lead to other areas and, in particular, understanding the political issue. But it was not that what the "engineer" taught us: "Newton's binomial is as beautiful as the Venus of Milo. But, few people see that"