Maria Emilia Neto de Sousa, Mayor of Almada, Portugal

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Maria Emília Neto de Sousa
Mayor of Almada, Portugal

By Adriana, Maciel

13 June 2010: Maria Emília Neto de Sousa was born on 14 November 1944 in São Bartolomeu de Messines, in the District of Faro, Portugal. Since 1987 she has been Mayor of Almada, supported by the left-wing Unitary Democratic Coalition [Communist Party of Portugal (PCP) and the Green Party (PEV)]. Almada is a municipality of Portugal with an area of 70 square kilometers and some 165,000 inhabitants. The city itself has a population of just over 102,000. It is composed of six parishes and is located in the district of Setúbal. The municipality of Almada includes two cities: Almada and Costa de Caparica. The mayor has been shortlisted for the 2010 World Mayor Prize.

Almada has been a member of Energie-Cités since 1998. It recently installed an efficient tramway system in place to enhance sustainable mobility in the city. The municipality is being served by a light-rail transit system, the Metro Transportes do Sul that will continue to be expanded, linking it to the suburban rail system serving Greater Lisbon and the municipality of Seixal.

Being a member of the International Association of Educating Cities (AICA) since 1997, Almada offers many opportunities to its young people in the fields of education, culture and recreation through the “Casas Municipales de la Juventud” (Youth’s Municipal Houses), whose main objective is to promote the real participation of young people providing them with suitable contexts for exercising their rights, solutions construction and responsibility compliance. The Casas Municipales are sort of seedbeds of innovating experiences and cultural project consolidation scenarios.

In the 1990s, Almada defined its paradigm of local development on the dialogue compromise, transversal actions, the relations between local, regional and federal administrations and civil society. Nowadays, the municipal administration aims to forment the exercise of policies of equality, inclusive citizenship, participation, cohesion and compromise with the development strategies outlined for the municipality, many of them settled on large conceptual, strategic and programmatic references.

Maria Emília Neto de Sousa started her political career in 1979, elected President of the Board of the Communities of Almada, a position which she occupied until 1983. In 1983, she was elected Councillor on the Municipal Council of Almada, taking on responsibilities in the fields of Urban Waste Services, Green Spaces and Social Actions.

In 1986, she was elected to a new term as councillor, assuming responsibilities in the fields of Urban Planning and Management.

On 6 November 1987, she took over the function of President of the Municipal Council (Mayor) of Almada. In December 1989, she was re-elected with a significant majority, and took on responsibilities related to Finance Administration and Main Municipal Direction. Then in December 1993, December 1997, December 2001 and October 2005 De Sousa was re-elected with an absolute majority as President of the Municipal Council of Almada.

Maria Emília Neto de Sousa is also assuming the functions of:
• President of the Administrative Council for Local Development Agencies of Arribatejo and Nova Almada Velha and the Municipal Energy Agency – AGENEAL;
• President of the Municipal Council for Citizens’ Security, the Local Council for Social Action and the municipal Council for education;
• Vice-president of the Congress Board of the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities;
• President of the Board of the General Assembly of Madan Parque - Sciences and Technology Park of Almada/Setúbal.
• Member of the Administrative Council of Costa Polis S.A., Anonymous Society of Public Capitals; and
• Member of the National Council for Environment and Development.

Distinctions and awards
• Gold Medal of Distinguished Services – Awarded on 25 January 1998 by the League of Portuguese Firefighters, in recognition of significant solidarity actions with the voluntary firefighters associations in Almada and the rest of the country.
• Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry (Ordem do Infante D. Henrique) – Awarded on 6 March 1998 by the President of the Republic, one of the most prestigious distinctions of the Portuguese Honorific Orders.
• Gold Badge – Awarded on 16 January 2005 by the League of Portuguese Firefighters in recognition of her relevant services for the Portuguese firefighters’ cause.
• Cultural and Teaching Merit Order ‘Gabriela Mistral’ Grand Commander – Award Awarded on 2 March 2005 by the Ministry of Education of Chile.

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