Brazilian Navy Physician Maria Cecília Barbosa da Silva Conceição made history Tuesday when she became the first black woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral.
Her promotion was approved in February and her appointment was confirmed last week. She took part in Tuesday's ceremony in which President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) greeted the newly promoted generals of the three forces.
I am quite happy, I feel rewarded. Our career in the Brazilian Navy is surrounded by difficult moments, good moments, and the institution opens this opportunity for officers to reach, by their own merit, higher positions during their career. I feel rewarded and happy to be part of the group of admirals in the Navy, Barbosa told Folha de S.Paulo.
After her promotion, Admiral Barbosa will head the Department of Health and Social Assistance of the Secretariat of Personnel, Health, Sports, and Social Projects at the Defense Ministry.
I think this [promotion] has to be a stimulus for more women to enter the Armed Forces because she can reach even the highest rank. Women only started joining the Navy in 1981, and from now on it should become more and more natural for us to reach the high levels, these admiral ranks, she said.
Before Maria Cecília, only two other women had reached the rank of admiral - the top of the Navy. The first was physician Dalva Maria Carvalho Mendes, in 2012. She joined the Navy in 1981, the year the Force allowed women to join. In 2018, the Navy promoted engineer Luciana Mascarenhas da Costa Marroni to the rank of rear admiral.
Now it was my turn. I believe that from now on other female admirals will emerge because a large number of women are already entering the ranks, Barbosa also explained.
The Air Force has also promoted women to general officer positions in the last decade while the first Army women generals are expected to be promoted by 2027.
To reach the rank of four-star general, the highest in the career, a soldier must join the Army through Aman (Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras). The first class of women only finished the course in 2021, 210 years into the institution's history.
Tuesday's ceremony also marked a rapprochement between the Armed Forces and President Lula after military officers were too deep into politics under former President Jair Bolsonaro.