Pintasilgo, Maria de Lourdes

   Catholic leader and social activist, chemical engineer, and politician. Born in Abrantes, to a middle class family, Pintasilgo had a distinguished record as a student in her Lisbon high school and at Lisbon's Instituto Superior Técnico where, in 1953, she graduated with an engineering degree in industrial chemistry. For seven years, she worked as an engineer for the Portuguese conglomerate Companhia União Fabril (CUF). A progressive Catholic who never formally joined a political party, Pintasilgo became a top lay Catholic leader in Portugal, as well as an influential, international Catholic leader in Catholic student, lay, and women's associations. She also attended Lisbon's Catholic University, where she became a student leader. During the final period of the dictatorship under Marcello Caetano, she held various government posts related to social welfare and women's affairs. In the first provisional government following the Revolution of 25 April 1974, Pintasilgo was secretary of state for social welfare and, by early 1975, became minister of social affairs. That same year, she became Portugal's first ambassador to the United Nations Educational and Social Organization.
   In July 1979, she became prime minister, following a call from President António Ramalho Eanes, and served in a caretaker role until January 1980. During her brief term, she worked to improve social security coverage and health and social welfare. She was Portugal's first woman prime minister and, following Britain's Margaret Thatcher, was Europe's second woman to serve in that office. In 1986, she ran as an independent for the presidency of the Republic but was unsuccessful. In 1987, she began a two-year term following election as a member of the European Parliament. She died suddenly and unexpectedly in July 2004.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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