Top Brazilian Award for Fernanda Giannasi 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



This year on Brazil’s national day of justice, August 11, retired Labor Inspector and leader of the Brazilian movement to ban asbestos Fernanda Giannasi will be honoured in the Palace of Justice when she is awarded the country’s highest distinction: the Order of Judicial Merit for Labor (Ordem do Merito do Trabalho)1 at a prestigious ceremony in Brasilia. The official presentation will be made to Ms. Giannasi by Minister César Augusto Carvalho. The decision to bestow this honor upon her was taken by the Ministers of the Higher Labour Court in recognition of her “tireless work to ban asbestos in Brazil”2 and was made official on July 3, 2014.


Fernanda Giannasi marching in landmark asbestos demonstration in Paris, October 2012.

Ms. Giannasi has been at the forefront of the struggle for asbestos justice in Brazil for more than three decades. With Eternit workers from the asbestos-cement factory in Osasco, Sao Paulo she founded the country’s first asbestos victims’ group (ABREA); working together they succeeded in mobilizing support from other injured citizens throughout the country. They challenged asbestos companies in state and federal courts, confronted asbestos lobbyists in legislative arenas and disputed industry propaganda circulated throughout the media. It is no exaggeration to say that Fernanda and ABREA revolutionized the asbestos debate in Brazil.

Commenting on the public announcement of this award, Fernanda Giannasi said:

“The significance of this news is the high visibility it brings to the struggle for asbestos justice in my country. Even as we await the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the unconstitutionality of Brazil’s continued use of asbestos, court verdicts are validating the right of workers to be compensated for asbestos injuries caused by negligent employers. The news of this award will encourage asbestos victims to demand their legal rights and bring forward the day when asbestos exposures are banned. I am both proud and humbled to be receiving this honor which I will accept on behalf of all asbestos victims and their family members.”

July 4, 2014


1 The Order of Judicial Merit for Labour was established on November 11, 1970 to recognize individuals who distinguished themselves and whose exemplary behaviour has benefited Brazil.

2 Fernanda Giannasi será homenageada com Ordem do Mérito Judiciário do Trabalho [Fernanda Giannasi will be honored with the Order of Merit for Labour Judiciary]. July 3, 2014.



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