FHC and Ruth

Ruth Cardoso

Anthropologist, university professor and researcher, published books and articles on society, culture and politics and founded the Comunidade Solidária Program


She received the following academic titles from the Faculty of Philosophy, Literature and Human Sciences of the University of São Paulo (USP): bachelor’s degree and teaching qualification in Social Sciences (1952), a master’s in Sociology (1959) and a doctorate in Social Sciences (1972). In 1988, she undertook a post-doctoral degree at Columbia University, New York, USA.

She worked as a teacher and researcher at USP; the Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP); in the Social Anthropology program at the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro; at the Faculdade Latino-Americana de Ciências Sociais (FLACSO) and the University of Chile, both in Santiago; at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris; and at the universities of Berkeley and Columbia, in the United Sates.

Social activist

Ruth Cardoso inspired projects and programs designed to strengthen civil society and promote social development.

During the presidential mandate of her husband, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, she founded and presided the board of the Comunidade Solidária (1995-2002). The initiative drove partnerships between NGOs, universities, companies and governments to build and disseminate innovative social programs.


The actions were aimed at promoting citizenship and local development through training and community organization.

Between 2002 and 2008, Ruth Cardoso presided Comunitas, a civic organization created to ensure the continuity of the Comunidade Solidária program.

During her life, Ruth Cardoso combined teaching and research with leadership in civil society. She advocated her ideas and discussed her experiences in talks, conferences and meetings in Brazil and abroad. She worked and interacted with members of the business community, entrepreneurs, social activists, politicians, artists, young people, men and women. She also received numerous awards and decorations. Her main mottos were:

“Combating poverty is not a question of transforming people and communities into the passive beneficiaries of social programs. Everyone has skills and talents. Every community has resources and assets. Combating poverty means strengthening capabilities and leveraging resources.”

“These days Brazilian society does not expect everything from the state. It takes the initiative, innovates and experiments. Partnerships between multiple stakeholders drive the efficiency and sustainability of social actions. Development is investment in human and social capital.”

See the guide to the Ruth Cardoso Collection.

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