When Regina Ramos da Silva decided to run for mayor in the town of Joaquim Pires, she was surprised to find her opponent was another woman. "After I announced my candidacy, the opposition party also chose a woman," says Ms Ramos, 43, who belongs to Brazil's Workers' Party (PT). "I guess it is because having a female mayor is something unprecedented. And everyone likes something new."
In at least 45 towns, only women are running for mayor, up from 32 in the last election in 2008. It illustrates a new scenario in Brazilian politics: female participation in municipal elections has risen 85% since the 2008 election. With Brazil marking 80 years since women were given the vote, two reasons seem to be behind the increase in female participation.
The first is a new gender quota law for party candidates, and the second, the 2010 election of Dilma Rousseff as Brazil's first female president. The new legislation, which came into effect this year, forces political parties to ensure that 30% of candidates are women.
The election of President Rousseff has also changed perceptions, some candidates say. "Women were emboldened by her victory and society started to see us in another way," says Jalmira Silva Ghanem, 52, from a centre-left coalition, who is running for mayor in Montividiu.