Maria Quiteria was born in 1772 in Bahia, Brazil. Her mother died when she was just a child and she was raised by her father. She had no school education but she was experienced in hunting, fishing and with guns. Maria Quiteria found problems with her second step-mother, whose didn't accept her independent way. 

In 1822, the interim council of the government of Bahia began to recruiting volunteers for the struggles to suport Brazil's independence. Maria liked the idea and asked for her dad's permission but, obviously, he did not permited. She cut off her hair and put men's clothes, and with her sister's and her brother in law's help, she runed away to enlist. Maria used her brother in Law's name to enlist and became known as "Soldier Medeiros", she joined in the battalion "Volunteers of Prince Dom Pedro".

When her dad realised what was happen, he looked for the battalion and told that she was a woman. As she was alredy recognized for her discipline, her efforts and her weapons skills the Major did not allow her to be expelled. Using her real name, Maria Quiteria changed the male uniform to use skirts and ornaments.

As an independet woman, she contradicted the standarts of society at the time. Her courage to join a masculine environment inspired other womens to enlist and formed a group led by Quitéria. She stood out in the battles she fought and she had a great importance in the War of Independence. With the defeat of the Portuguese troops, Quiteria was promoted to cadet. As Emperor, Dom Pedro I gave to her the title of "Knight of the Imperial Order of the Cruise" and was recognized as an Independence Heroine.

Maria Quiteria was the first woman to enlist in the Brazilian Army. She is an example of courage and of female empowerment. 

Maria Quiteria died in 1853, in Salvador, Bahia. Since 1996, she's the Patron of the Complementary Staff of Brazilian Army Officers, and, since 2018, is part of the Book of Heroes and Heroines of the Homeland.

Article by: Luisa Cuerci

Drafted by: Cassiane Araujo