Painting empowers women in Brazil

AkzoNobel’s “Coral Mulheres na Cor” (Coral Women in Color) program is helping women in Brazil take control of their lives, provide for their families and carve out careers in the male-dominated painting sector.

A vocational decorative painting course established by our Coral brand has helped to change the lives of almost 30 women in Brazil. 

Coral Women in Color was set up to offer women in socially vulnerable conditions an opportunity to earn a living as professional painters – and attempt to redress the gender balance in the painting sector.

The second intake of 15 participants graduated in October 2023, to add to the 14 who successfully completed the course in 2022 (12 of whom continue to work as professional painters).



Those who took part are women over the age of 18 with few qualifications, who have found themselves running households with little or no income. During the course, they receive payment and are provided with transport, food, uniforms and personal protective equipment, which is funded by supporting organizations. In addition, all graduates receive a kit of manual and electrical tools, which will be vital for those who decide to pursue their professional journey as self-employed.

“The word that defines my current moment, since I started the course, is transformation,” explains Luciana Pereira da Silva, one of the latest graduates. “This project has changed my life in every way.”

Hard graft

For 15 weeks, the women on the 2023 program had access to 360º knowledge about painting, totaling more than 220 hours. In addition to the painter training course, the project included lectures, conversation circles, mentoring and specializations promoted by partner companies. Another 16 hours were dedicated to the development of so-called soft skills, important for entering the job market, as well seminars to build their vision of the future. There were around 20 hours of training at the Coral Academy, learning about colors and trends, equipment and products, applying effects and technologies.

“The exchange of experience and knowledge in this program is much greater than simple professional training,” notes Elaine Poço, AkzoNobel’s Director of Research and Development and Sustainability for Latin America. “We hope they can be transformative elements in their community, encouraging other women to see new opportunities.”

The changing face of the industry

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Brazilian Association of Professional Painters, women make up only 10.5% of its membership. “There’s a lot of prejudice because I’m a lower class woman,” says Júlia, one of the first group of graduates. “People don’t give us credit. But now, they’re going to. Now, I’m even more confident.”

Increasing the proportion of women in the painting workforce not only enriches the sector by drawing on a more diverse pool of talent, it also makes it more reflective of the communities it serves. And the benefits aren’t just felt by the graduates and their families. There’s a ripple effect, helping to generate wider social and economic growth.

The power of collaboration

For the second class of participants, Coral worked with several companies that share its purpose of being an agent of inclusion and social transformation through sustainability. SENAI-SP, the National Industrial Learning Service, was the teaching partner of Coral Mulheres na Cor. The financial partners were CASACOR, Dow and Arxada, in addition to AkzoNobel. Tool partners were Condor and Vonder; while employability support was provided by Atala Engenharia and Abrapp (Brazilian Association of Professional Painters). The Organization Aldeias Infantiles SOS was the partner for relationships with the participants.

Painting a brighter tomorrow

Our Coral brand’s customers now have the option of choosing a female professional to paint their homes through the Colored Pages “find a painter” site – a digital platform that connects consumers with reliable professionals – such as recent graduate, Thainara Diana Diogo Da Silva. This promotional campaign demonstrates Coral’s commitment to addressing the current gender bias in the sector by not only offering training to women, but also actively supporting their entry into the profession. 

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