Painting empowers women in Brazil

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

Fourteen Brazilian women recently attended a celebratory evening at MASP – São Paulo Art Museum – marking their graduation from our first Women in Color course in decorative painting.

The inclusive vocational course from our Coral brand is designed to help women in difficult socio-economic situations to earn a living as professional painters in Brazil – and start to redress the gender balance in the painting sector.

No mean feat

The carefully calibrated celebration reflected the scale of the women’s achievements in becoming fully-fledged professional painters.

Course participants were women over the age of 18 with few qualifications who’d found themselves running households with little or no income. The women received scholarships, transport, food, uniforms and protective equipment that made it possible for them to complete the course, whilst continuing to meet their ongoing family commitments.

Explains graduate, Júlia dos Santos Silva: “I want to make my own money. I thought it was impossible to take care of the house, my son and work at the same time, but I’m getting the hang of it.”

Hard graft

A ten-week, 200-hour course – which was delivered with the help of local partners – turned the trainees into industry-ready professional painters endorsed by our Coral brand. Their tuition included a combination of hands-on training and theory covering topics such as colors, trends, products, decorative effects and finding and retaining work in the painting sector.


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 are barriers facing women entrants. “There’s a lot of prejudice because I’m a lower-class woman,” explains Júlia. “People don’t give us credit. But now, they’re going to. Now, I’m even more confident,” she adds.

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. 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

Several like-minded organizations worked with us to make this training program happen.

Our Academia Coral and SENAI-SP, the largest training provider in Latin America, worked together to teach the women all they need to know about painting. Bazar das Tintas, CASACOR, Dow Quimica, Oxiteno, Tintas MC and WACKER provided the finance. We’re also grateful to tool partners, Condor and Vonder; employability partners, Atala Engenharia and Abrapp – and NGO, Fazendinhando, which helped us find our participants.  Thanks also go to two experienced professional painters – Ana Machado and Leandro Piovesan – who provided the trainees with a ready supply of moral support, inspiration and encouragement throughout the course.

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. 

Most of the Women in Color graduates are well on their way to forging careers in the painting sector. Seven (50% of the graduates) have already found employment with Atala (one of the program’s partners)  and others have set themselves up as freelance professional painters.

But the graduates have found a lot more than just work. They have renewed self-esteem and the financial independence that allows them to plan for a much rosier future.

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