International Women’s Day
A recipe for equality: sharing a meal and sharing responsibilities for a Planet 50-50
Date: 12 March 2017
Dili, Timor-Leste — "If we want to make gender equality a reality in Timor-Leste, then men and boys must start to change their way of thinking and how they act,” urged Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Dr. Rui Maria de Araújo during the launch of the HeforShe Campaign in Timor-Leste, in commemoration of the 2017 International Women’s Day on 10 March 2017.
Directing his message to a group of 25 young boys in their school uniforms whom he had invited to the podium, he continued, “From now on, when you all go home, men and boys should help with the housework. We must start with little changes.” This statement by Dr. Araújo was welcomed with loud applause by the audience of 400 people who had gathered for the launch. He appealed to men in the audience, “to be a part of this movement, beginning within their own home, to consider women as partners and allies to push the development of this country forward, and to start to change our society’s mentality.”
The campaign was launched at Timor Plaza, Dili’s largest shopping Centre through a cooking event to promote men in care-giving roles, starting with a demonstration by the Prime Minister himself, who cooked and then served a fish soup with locally-sourced food. A professional chef then guided 37 men to show their culinary talents and create their own dishes for all those who had gathered to enjoy a shared meal. The diverse cooking teams represented the Government through the Secretary of State for the Support and Socio-economic Promotion of Women, civil society including the women’s organizations and network, health and HIV, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex advocates, and youth groups, as well as the United Nations Country Team, embassies and development agencies from Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States.
In line with the theme of “Women in the changing world of work”, the cooking event and parallel paper doll arts activity organized for primary students to imagine and create images of people working in non-traditional gender roles aimed to raise awareness of the barrier that unpaid household care work places on women’s economic empowerment. A gender analysis conducted of Timor-Leste’s 2013 Labor Force Survey found that only 21 per cent of working-age women in Timor-Leste were in the labor force, lower than global averages. The first reason they gave for their non-participation was their household duties and family responsibilities, a clear message that change needs to start within the home.
In addition to the Prime Minister, the Director of Timor Plaza and Timor-Leste’s most prominent family business, Tony Jape, called on all companies to join in committing to gender equality and highlighted the business case for empowering women. “We need to make sure that we don’t just assume that some jobs are for men and some jobs are for women. We need to open our minds to the capacity that lies at the heart of human beings and help them to realize their potential.”
The event was organized through partnership with the UN Country Team, the Australian Embassy, Embassy of the United States of America, USAID, Acting Resident Coordinator and UNICEF Representative Desiree Jongsma, Hatutan Youth Council, Health Alliance International, KOICA, Telkomcel, and Timor Plaza. The Acting UN Resident Coordinator, Desiree Jongsma, in her speech reminded the participants that, “we need to take action, not only on International Women’s Day but every day, to take up the collective responsibility to guarantee gender equality, at home, at workplace and all aspects of lives.” By launching HeforShe in Timor-Leste, a key ingredient was added to the recipe for gender equality and a planet 50-50 by 2030.
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