Timor-Leste is emerging from decades of turmoil. Women in Timor-Leste continue to struggle with the aftermath of conflict. NGOs estimate that 45% of all married Timorese women were widowed as a result of the conflict. Rape and sexual violence were widely used as a weapon of war in the conflict, and though there were major trauma counselling projects including UNIFEM’s community-based ICMC initiative, women did not have sufficient access to services to deal with the consequences of these traumas – including the conception of children. The heavy loss of working-age men has meant that many women have taken on the demands of providing for their families, while also continuing to shoulder the burden of family upkeep. In the midst of these difficulties, women are making their voices heard through NGOs that focus on ensuring women’s political participation and advocating for services and programmes aimed at women. A Gender and the Constitution Working Group, supported by UNIFEM, was created to ensure women’s rights were included in the new constitution. The new constitution of Timor-Leste guarantees equality between men and women and sets out as one of the state’s objectives “to promote and guarantee the effective equality of opportunities between women and men.”
Advocates for women’s human rights in Timor-Leste have focused on three main areas: service provision for those who have suffered during the conflict, income generating projects for women in poverty, and political participation and women’s rights.
The programme strategy is based on the most effective ways to partner with ongoing UN programmes in Timor-Leste. Joint programmes are explored and implemented with the OHCHR, building on past work and deepening the gender dimensions. A substantive area focus is research on violence against women and includes working with the Working Group on Violence Against Women, which is advising the Prime Minister on legislation to address violence against women. Another area is capacity building of village traditional justice systems in relation to CEDAW. UNIFEM’s long experience working closely with women’s NGOs and its focus on empowerment of women leaders will be strengthened.
Crafting the blueprint for change in Timor Leste
The Timorese government has been issued with the challenge to guarantee genuine equality between women and men. This sums the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW Convention, the international bill of rights for women.
Ms. Pramila Patten, a member of the Committee that reviewed Timor-Leste’s first report on the rights of women in the country was in Dili in early November 2009 to present the Committee’s Concluding Observations. From all over Dili and the districts, NGO representatives, government officials and civil society members gathered to hear how Timorese women were faring in the quest to achieve their rights and equality both in the country’s laws and in day to day life. more>>
Charting Women's History in Timor-Leste
Ahead of the presentation of Timor-Leste’s first State Report to the Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a preparatory Mock Session was organised by the CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme (CEDAW SEAP) of UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women on 23 - 24 June 2009 in Dili.
“What constitutes discrimination against women?”
“The Constitutional Provisions will not capture the meaning of discrimination – both intended and unintended - the question is whether there has been any discussion of how to bring about or tie the meaning of discrimination as defined by the Convention?” more>>
Roundtable Discussion on
Women, Peace and Security (UN Security Council Resolution 1325) in Dili,
28 September, 2006
Representatives from the parliament, government, international and
national NGOs, women’s NGOs and UN Agencies exchanged views on crises,
their impacts on women and what they can do to improve the situation.
With the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 as reference point,
participants at the forum discussed ideas on short, medium and long-term
strategies on women and peace-building. It was agreed that women in
Timor-Leste remain marginalised when it comes to their access to
information, education and knowledge. Low representation of women in
government and key positions, women’s lack of power in decision-making,
lack of opportunities and of political support reconfirm that
patriarchal culture continues to exclude and isolate women from active
participation in the peace building.
Launch of the Handbook on
Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW) in Four Languages
28 September, 2006 A series of CEDAW
workshops held between May to August of 2005 established language
barriers as one of the constraints in the understanding of CEDAW – the
text itself, its General Recommendations and the Optional Protocol. To
resolve the language issue and to make the CEDAW document accessible
among the general public, as well as practitioners and advocates, the
UNIFEM CEDAW SEAP produced this version of handbook in the four working
languages namely Tetun, Portuguese, English and Bahasa Indonesia.