Marina Silva is a Brazilian environmentalist and politician. Despite being illiterate until the age of 16, the native Amazonian received a history degree and co-founded Brazil’s independent trade union movement in the 1980s. She was elected to the senate in 1994, becoming Brazil’s youngest-ever senator. She also served as Brazil’s environmental minister from 2003 to 2008. She ran for the presidency in 2010, setting the goal of becoming, in her words, “the first black woman of poor origins” to win the job, and managed to force the race into a second round. In 2014, she was named the Socialist Party’s vice-presidential candidate. When her running-mate, Eduardo Campos, passed away, she once again ran for the presidency.
Ms. Silva has devoted her life to social justice causes, engaging in anti-forestation efforts, fighting back against the expulsion of indigenous communities from their traditional land, and advocating for sustainable development, better access to education, and women’s equality. As a result of her work, she has been named one of the Financial Times’ Women of 2014 and one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. She has also received the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Sophie Prize.
Her “personal warmth” and “remarkable strength” have inspired Brazilians of all classes and ages to unite behind her vision of “Brazil as a society that is economically successful yet respected in the world for its humanity and environmental and social consciousness.”
Silva received a bachelor’s degree from the Federal University of Acre.