President Dilma Vana Rousseff was born in Belo Horizonte, on December 14, 1947, to the Bulgarian lawyer, and immigrant to Brazil, Pedro Rousseff, and to the school teacher from Rio de Janeiro, Dilma Jane da Silva. She is the middle child of three siblings, between Igor and Zana.
She began her studies in the traditional school Our Lady of Sion, in Belo Horizonte and later, at the age of 16, in the Central State High School, she faced her first battles for democracy, social justice and economic development in her country. She took to the streets to protest against the military coup that ousted elected President João Goulart and participated in the organized resistance against the dictatorship.
A dedicated, brave, determined militant, she was arrested and tortured within the undergrounds of the military regime. During her activism against the dictatorship she met the lawyer from Rio Grande do Sul Carlos Franklin Paixão de Araújo, with whom she maintained a relationship that lasted for over thirty years. Imprisoned by the military regime, she spent nearly three years (1970-1972) in the Tiradentes penitentiary, in São Paulo. Freed in 1973, she moved to Porto Alegre and began to study Economics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. In 1975, she started working as an intern at the Economics and Statistics Foundation (Fundação de Economia e Estatística, FEE), a government agency in Rio Grande do Sul, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economics in 1977. In 1990, she returns to the FEE, appointed President of the institution. In 1976, she gave birth to Paula Rousseff Araujo, whom, thirty years later, gave birth to her beloved grandson, Gabriel, with whom, whenever possible, Dilma spends her Sunday afternoons at the Alvorada Palace, or at her home in Porto Alegre.
In the early 80's, she helped former governor Leonel Brizola found the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) in Rio Grande do Sul. She became an advisor to the labor bench in the State Legislative Assembly and, by invitation of the mayor Alceu Collares, a party member, took office at the Municipal Secretariat of Finance in Porto Alegre. Elected governor in 1993, Collares appointed her State Secretary of Energy, Mines and Communication. In 1998, Dilma started her doctoral program in Economics at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) in São Paulo, but due to her active involvement in the Governor's election campaign in Rio Grande do Sul, she did not defend her thesis. She was re-appointed Secretary of Energy when, in 1999, Olivio Dutra took office as governor, under a PT-PDT coalition. In 2000 Dilma joined the Workers' Party (PT). In 2001, a serious energy crisis challenges the country's power distribution, but Rio Grande do Sul was one of the few states of the Federation not to suffer any blackouts. Acknowledging her work at the Secretariat during the crisis, President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva invited Dilma, in late 2002, to join the transition team to the next Federal government. After Lula's inauguration, she was appointed Minister of Mines and Energy.
In 2003-2005, she led a major overhaul at the Ministry through the creation of so-called regulatory framework (laws and technical standards that regulate the State's relations with the industry) and prepared the country to avert power shortages in the event of new water crises. In addition, she chaired Petrobrás' Board of Directors, introduced biodiesel into the Brazilian energy matrix and created the Luz para Todos (Light for All) program.
Lula appointed Dilma as Chief of Staff in 2005 to coordinate the Ministries. She took over the coordination of strategic initiatives, such as the Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, PAC (Growth Acceleration Program) and the popular housing program Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life). She also coordinated the Interministerial Commission responsible for laying down the rules for the exploitation of the newly discovered Pre-Salt oil reserves and sat on the Federal Government Budget Board.
On April 3, 2010 Dilma left the Federal government to run for president. On June 13, the PT formalized her candidacy. In the second round of the elections, on 31 October 2010, Dilma Rousseff, at the age of 63, was elected President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, with over 55.7 million votes (56.05%). She was the first elected woman to occupy the Planalto Palace, as well as the first woman appointed Secretary of Finance of Porto Alegre, the first State Secretary of Energy, the first woman Minister of Mines and Energy and Chief of Staff as well.
In 2014 she ran for re-election, after a four-year government marked by the strengthening of social inclusion and inequality reduction programs launched under Lula's government. The Bolsa Família (Family Grant) and the Brasil Sem Miséria (Brazil Without Poverty) programs lifted 36 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty – 22 million of them were beneficiaries during Dilma's term, thanks to enhancements to the Bolsa Família program, which currently assists 13.9 million families; more than 3.5 million housing units were built under the Minha casa, Minha Vida; 42 million people ascended to the middle class; the minimum wage was increased by 72% above inflation and 20.9 million formal jobs were opened in ten years. Furthermore, during her office term the international bidding of the Campo de Libra, in the Pre-Salt, under the sharing format took place, which should generate R$ 638 billion in resources for education and health for the next 35 years, and R$ 368 billion for the Fundo Social (Social Fund).
During her term in office, Dilma has created more and new programs to improve the lives of Brazilians. She implemented the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program which, in less than two years, hired over 14,000 doctors in Brazil and abroad to meet chronic shortages in the outskirts of large cities and in the most disadvantaged municipalities in the country. Today, Mais Médicos is in 3800 cities, assisting an estimated population of 50 million. In addition, she created additional 11,400 openings in undergraduate courses in Medicine and 12,400 medical residency positions.
In the field of education, in addition to the partnership with states and municipalities to improve pre-school, elementary and secondary education, new universities within the country were established and the Programa Nacional de Acesso ao Ensino Técnico e Emprego, Pronatec (National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment) was launched, which has already secured free technical training as well as professional training courses for 8 million young workers, and aims at benefitting 12 million over the next four years. The benefits of the programs ProUni, Fies and Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science without Borders) contribute to a more universal and democratic higher education and enhance the opportunities of overseas study programs for the students. With almost unanimous support from Congress to the government's proposal on the Marco Civil da Internet (Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet), Brazil became the first country to have a law that consolidates the Internet as a free and democratic space, essential to social participation, innovation and, especially, to the exercise of citizenship.
During President Dilma's first term, US$ 143 billion were destined to investment in urban mobility, the largest allocation of public resources into public transportation in our history. Moreover, investments to expand and modernize ports, airports and highways throughout the country have been made and are still ongoing.
Brazil hosted a Confederations Cup and the world's largest sporting event, the World Soccer Cup, which were successfully organized. Integrated Command and Control Centers were established in every World Cup host city, an instrument that is an undeniable legacy to Public Security in the country.
Similarly to the eight years of Lula's government, Dilma's four-year term in office contributed to macroeconomic stability; to reducing the net debt of the public sector, which in 2002-2014 fell from 60% to 35% of GDP; to the accumulation of US$ 380 billion of foreign exchange reserves; to the consolidation of democracy in all its aspects, from full respect for individual rights to full freedom of the press, and the preservation of an environment of harmony with its South American neighbors, with whom Brazil has been at peace for over 140 years.
Brazil has become more dynamic, more human, more equal. In the month that the country achieved the lowest unemployment rate of all its history, 4.7%, Dilma Rousseff was re-elected president of the Republic, in the second round of elections,on October 26, 2014, with over 54.5 million votes (51.64%).