Welcome to the Official page of the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic

Note on navigating with support technologies

On this page you will find two navigation aids: a search engine (shortcut key 1) | Skip to content (shortcut key 2)
Apresentação do livro 'As Primeiras-Damas - As Mulheres dos Presidentes da República em Democracia'
Apresentação do livro 'As Primeiras-Damas - As Mulheres dos Presidentes da República em Democracia'
Palácio de Belém, 12 de Abril de 2011 see more: Apresentação do livro 'As Primeiras-Damas - As Mulheres dos Presidentes da República em Democracia'


Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva Speeches


Click here to reduce font size| Click here to increase font size
Speech addressed by Mrs. Cavaco Silva at the Award Ceremony of the 10th Edition of the Active Woman Prize
Casino Estoril, 8 March 2010

Last year we celebrated for the first time our Active Women on Woman’s Day.

I believe the change was a good idea. After all, if we are paying a tribute to our exceptional women, to use the terminology of the March edition of “Activa”, why not do it precisely on the day which, all over the world, is dedicated to the Woman..

There are still better reasons for us to be here today, March 8, to think a bit deeper of the Women of our country – the world is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Woman’s International Day and it is ten years since the Active Woman Prize was set up.

This prize introduced to the country, in these last ten years, one hundred exceptional women.

On this 8th day of March I want, however, to once again call your attention to the numbers, which continue frightening, of victims of domestic violence.

In 2009, eleven women between the ages of 18 and 35 were murdered.

The greater number was between 36 and 50 years of age – thirteen – and two older than 50.

What is yet more concerning in these numbers, terrible enough as they are, is that there was a 40% increase in the younger age group.

This must be placed in the centre of our thoughts. What is happening to us? Do we consider ourselves a developed society and are unable to put a stop to this plague?

The younger generations, which are our hope, are increasingly following the bad examples of the older people. Why?

Unfortunately we do not have an answer to these issues, but we have the duty to publicly denounce them.

But the reason we are gathered here today is the award of prizes to Portuguese women who, with their activity and living example, are helping us to build a better world..

In 1998, Arundhati Roy, a young woman born in India in 1961, won the Booker Prize with her first book “The God of Small Things”.

It is a fantastic and fascinating novel, in the true meaning of the word.

Reading the well prepared texts that help me to better become acquainted with our nominees, and before stepping onto this stage to pay them tribute, my mind took me to the magic world in the south of India, that so attracted me when I read the novel, which had a worldwide success.

All these women, after all, such as all those who came before them and number one hundred until today, are “goddesses of small things”.

And it is the small things and the small people that, when expanded, make the world go forward.

They are normal people, who in a certain moment of history are faced with a future which is out of the normal and find in themselves the capabilities which they themselves never knew they had.

The ten women, these hundred women, these “goddesses of small things”, do not have to be faced with an exceptional future to be able to achieve great things.

They just put into practice the allegory of the Good Samaritan that teaches us who is our neighbour: that which is near to us and needs us.

Catarina Fonseca, in her text super-heroines, warns us: “We take out all our stops for Haiti, but we run away from our neighbours”

Fortunately Catarina has an aunt Adélia who provides soup for the neighbours.

Fortunately I had a maternal grandmother with whom I spent just a few weeks during the Summer holidays who, when I asked – Granny, why prepare so much food if there are only three of us? – answered me very naturally – Well, my darling, what about the dog and the cat?

Maria Pinto Teixeira and Luísa Barroso would have adored this grandmother of mine.

I also adored her, I swear.

I want to believe that these “goddesses of small things”. – of which we have ten with us today – have an enormous glamour, Catarina Fonseca.

I am quite sure, such as Rosária Barreto, that there are many heroines in our country.

The day-to-day super heroines, such as Madalena, who has all the legitimacy in the world to state: “I have enormous respect for life”.

Or such as Margarida Lancastre, who from the height of her blooming “just a few years”, states:

“I am constantly dazzled with the whole Universe”.

And I too Margarida. And I love this fascination.

Such as Leonor Festas, who is a multimillionaire because she works hard and does not earn any money.

Such as Luísa Beltrão, that a different daughter caused her to be reborn.

Such as Eugénia Saraiva, who is still surprised by solidarity.

Me too, Eugénia. And thank God for it!

Such as Teresa Ricou, the most serious little clown I ever met.

Tété, I was happy to know that you were born with a very well organized navel.

Mine is not so bad, either.

Such as Ana, from my alma mater, the Portuguese Catholic University, who wants to give a language to the deaf.

All this is Overpowering! – as Margarida Pinto Correia would say..

I believe so too, Margarida!

We, the women, were programmed to overcome difficulties. For this reason Muhammad Yunus started his micro credit with women.

For this reason, a journalist, who was recently in the field in Haiti, told me that UNO had decided to distribute food to the women, leaving the men on the side, looking on.

My dearest “Goddesses of small things”:

Persevere in your path and there will be no crisis, difficulties or anguish which your families, your causes, your country will not be able to overcome.

Let me finish by saying, as always:

I am very, very proud, of the women of my country.

My congratulations to you all.

Many thanks!

Maria Cavaco Silva

© 2006-2016 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic