RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Acting President Michel Temer promised on Thursday that he will at some point have women in his currently all white-male Cabinet.
Federal lawmaker Josi Nunes told journalists in Brasilia that Temer pledged at a meeting with congresswomen that he would be bringing females into his government "a little further ahead."
Nunes also said Temer denied there will be any setback in policies for women. The interim president has been under heavy criticism for not appointing women and members of racial minorities to any of the current 23 Cabinet positions.
"I told him that in the decision-making table of the ministries it is necessary to have a woman," said Nunes, who is a member of Temer's fractured and scandal-prone Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.
"He also said he will work on issues of women, the elderly, the young and the handicapped. He asked us for some time," the lawmaker said.
Legislator Mara Gabrilli blamed Brazil's political parties for the lack of women in the new Cabinet. "It wasn't Temer's fault," she said.
Gabrilli said the female lawmakers met with the acting president to advocate for one of them to be speaker of Congress' lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. The current holder of the position, Eduardo Cunha, has been suspended by Brazil's top court because he is being investigated on accusations of corruption and obstruction of justice.
Temer took office last week after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended for up to 180 days while the Senate holds an impeachment trial.
Rousseff criticized Temer's Cabinet in an open conversation with Facebook users by saying women don't want to be "a decorative fetish."
To counter some of the gender-based criticism, Temer appointed a woman to as chairman of Brazil's state-run investment bank BNDES and another to lead his human rights secretariat, a position that was a Cabinet post under Rousseff.
Temer also reportedly sought to name a female culture secretary but eventually chose a man after five women said they had refused the job.