The crowd of women — 70,000 according to organizers and 50,000 according to police — wore straw hats and brandished purple banners while they marched down the capital city’s main thoroughfare.

*”We have come to deliver the Brazilian rural workers’ demands to President Dilma. We fight for water, for healthy food, for food security, for a non-sexist education, for access to healthcare and an end to domestic violence,”* said a union manager.

For the first time, the yearly protest is addressing a female president in Brazil and Rousseff was expected to join the march at the end of the day in a city park.

*”We are anxiously awaiting her arrival, because since she is a women, she will understand our pain. Even if she is not in our social class. Dilma Rousseff was a political prisoner and a victim of discrimination,”* said 71-year-old Ivanize Magalhaes, who travelled for three days to join the protest.

Each year the march brings thousands of rural workers from all over Brazil to Brasilia. The protest movement is a tribute to Margarida Alves, a union leader who was assassinated in 1983 while fighting for social justice.