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Cristina Tavares

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Death Date.:
 Journalist, Teacher, Policy


Cristina Tavares

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 15/06/2023

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - Researcher at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Master in Psychology

Maria Cristina de Lima Tavares Correia was born on 10 June 1934, in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, to José Alves Tavares Correia and Maria Mercês de Lima Tavares Correia. Although she was a journalist and teacher, she became famous for her committed journalism and political participation. Her vibrant speeches made her stand out among renowned personalities of Brazilian society who resisted the 1964 Military Coup in parliament.

In party politics, she was considered a serious speaker together with the social movements, winning three terms. In 1978, with the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), she won her first term as federal representative (for the 1979-1983 legislature) with 22,519 votes. Then, with the same party that had transformed into the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), she won two more consecutive terms as a federal representative: in 1982 (for the 1983-1987 legislature) with 27,963 votes; and in 1986 (for the 1987-1991 legislature) with 40,613 votes. At that time, she was the only woman to have the position. She came to be an icon of bravery, coherence, intelligence and integrity. In her third term, she also participated in the National Constituent Assembly.

Even without having been a member of the Feminist Movement, Cristina Tavares understood how inhumane gender inequalities were. In this sense, she signed and undertook numerous commitments with the Women’s Rights Movement, legislating in defence of the civil, political and social rights of the female population.

Her trajectory began in the former Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), where she was part of the so-called ‘authentic group’, with Ulysses Guimarães and others who took on parliamentary resistance to the Military Regime. Thus, Cristina Tavares fought, along with the Federal House of Representatives, for the political emancipation of women, the rights of domestic servants and rural workers, for land rights, comprehensive healthcare for women, the decriminalisation of abortion and against inequalities in treatment between men and women.

She also authored the constitutional amendment that came to recognise and enshrine the rights of women, as head of the couple, pertaining to income tax. In addition, Cristina Tavares authored various other projects aimed at combating discrimination against women in the labour market, as well as the physical, moral, legal and institutional violence that they were suffering. The representative was also author of the Family chapter in the Civil Code.

Throughout her political life, Cristina Tavares prepared a total of 139 projects, gave 334 speeches, participated in two parliamentary committees, served as a rapporteur for two symposia and presided over two committees in the House of Representatives, delivered 60 conferences in Brazil, 12 abroad, and published 8 books. With regards to the 1986 Constitution, she would table 227 amendments, of which 95 were adopted.

In August 1960, when the famous existentialist philosopher couple, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, disembarked in the city of Recife, it is worth mentioning that the Frenchman fell quickly in love with a Pernambuco woman to the point of wishing to marry her in Paris. Having become very ill on this occasion, Madame Beauvoir recorded the following in her memoirs: “while I lay in my bed of pain, he was walking with her.” The red-haired girl, for whom Sartre had become maddened with passion, was Cristina Tavares. And if the representative had married the French philosopher and gone to live in Paris as he wished, the political history of the state (as well as that of Brazil) would have lost one of the greatest combatants against the military dictatorship.

Cristina Tavares was also elected as a federal representative for Pernambuco. At that time, she was the only woman to achieve this position, and she became an icon of bravery, coherence, intelligence and integrity.

In 1983, the representative would found the Teotônio Vilela Centre for Political and Social Studies, an important stage on which various of the Brazilian population’s problems would be discussed. In the House of Representatives, Cristina Tavares pioneered the defence of gender issues, social rights, freedom of the press, and women’s rights.

It can be affirmed that the representative from Pernambuco was admired by many Northeastern personalities, among them the former Minister of Justice Fernando Lyra who, in February 2003, would assume the Presidency of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation.

In the early 1990s, Cristina Tavares, along with other leading figures from the parliamentary left, would lose the election. However more important than that, she would lose even the greatest of all battles: the struggle for life.

At age 55, in 1992, Cristina Tavares died of cancer in the United States. Her political struggle, however, was not in vain. Countless important achievements that women enjoy today are due to this brave warrior.

And in 2004, during the International Women's Year, when the House of Representatives decided to renew its series of former parliamentarians’ profiles, the first female name that the parliamentary bench outlined was that of Cristina Tavares Correia, the greatest female presence in national politics.



Recife, 29 March 2005.


sources consulted

CÂMARA lança perfil parlamentar de Florestan Fernandes e de Cristina Tavares. Disponível em: < =Printable>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2005.

CÂMARA lança novos perfis parlamentares. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2005.

CRISTINA Tavares – PSDB/PE. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 22 mar. 2005.

INSCRIÇÕES para o prêmio Cristina Tavares abertas até 30 de outubro. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2005.

CRISTINA Tavares. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2005.

MARIA Cristina de Lima Tavares Correia. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2005.

how to quote this text

VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Cristina Tavares. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2005. Available at: Accessed: month day year. (Exemple.: Aug. 6, 2023.)