UN Women Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste (or East Timor) became an independent nation in 2002 after centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, followed by Indonesian occupation and devastating conflict which left most of the population displaced and 70 per cent of the infrastructure decimated. From disaster to transition, the country has just witnessed the third free and fair Presidential and Parliamentary elections and inaugurated the new government in August 2012.
Currently, the main challenges for women remain deep poverty, frequent cases of domestic violence and lack of recognition of women’s contribution tothe political, economic and social spheres. Political participation and economic empowerment are particularly crucial as the conflict left nearly half of Timorese women widowed and sole providers for their family. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and domestic violence are critical issues for women in post-conflict Timor-Leste. Domestic violence is the most reported case to the Vulnerable Persons Unit of the National Police, a unit set up with assistance from the UN specifically for vulnerable people including women, children and the elderly. Timorese women have described domestic violence as normal and sometimes, a daily occurrence.
The creation of the new constitution provided an opportunity for women's human rights, and a Gender and Constitution Working Group was set up with support from UN Women and its partners to ensure that women's rights were included in the new constitution. This resulted in guarantees of equality between women and men, and a declared state objective to promote and guarantee equal opportunities in the political and social sphere for all. A recent amendment to the electoral law states that 33 per cent of the political parties' lists must be women candidates, resulting in 38 per cent of seats in the National Parliament being women, the highest rate in the Asia Pacific region. The Ministers of Finance and Social Solidarity, 4 Vice-Ministers, namely Health, Education, Management, Support and Resources, and 4 Secretary of State positions are held by women. At the local level, there are currently 11 women village Chiefs (Chefes de Suco), 2 women sub-village Chiefs (Chefes de Aldeia), and 6 elders that function as traditional leaders (lian nain). Each village council is guaranteed 3 women representatives country-wide.
Other legislative measures have come into effect as well, such as the Law against Domestic Violence Law, passed in 2010 naming domestic violence a public crime, and the National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence, a strategy of prevention and provision of services for survivors of gender-based violence and domestic violence.
UN Women established a presence in Timor-Leste with an initial needs assessment in 2000, and opened a project office in 2001. Currently, UN Women works in the following areas:
- Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting
- Women in Politics
- CEDAW Implementation in Timor-Leste
- Women , Peace and Security
News and Updates
Faustino S. de Carvalho has been a teacher for 14 years, but noticed a change in his style after a week’s training under the Connect With Respect programme. “Now I am really aware that violence is not the way to educate others, but through respect. When you respect students, they will respect and listen to you,” he said. The change has also been noticed at home, he said. “My wife has been really surprised and the kids who live with me at home have also become closer and communicate more with me.”
Whether it’s the role of women in the workplace or that of men in the home, shifting attitudes in Timor-Leste can support conflict prevention in several ways, according to local organization Belun. The group, founded in 2004, has been working with UN Women since 2017 as part of the Women, Peace and Security programme, with the generous support of the Government of Japan.
Joker da Silva is an openly trans man. He is one of many LGBTI activists in Timor-Leste who have helped raise the visibility of the community, including through activities supported by UN Women that build connections and support among members. “I hated to look at myself in the mirror because I was a pretty girl but had a male attitude. Then I decided to devote myself to the church to change.
President of the Parliament, His Excellency Arão Noé Amaral, re-affirmed in his opening remarks, Parliament’s commitment to the rights of people living with disabilities and pledged to study the possibility of developing a parliamentary resolution to adopt on the rights of people with disabilities. He also said he would invite the Government to submit a proposal for ratification of ''The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.'' “Government has the obligation to protect persons with disabilities and not to exclude them from development programming and planning,” Amaral said.
Meet Timor-Leste’s first female municipal police commander, Superintendent Natercia E. S. Martins, who earned the rank within 10 years of service with the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL). Her motivation and zeal has propelled her career development forward. Recalling the many opportunities she was given to develop her capacity, inside and outside the country, she noted, “My full dedication to work and serving the institution has led me to receive training opportunities and promotions.” Just within the 10 years of her career, she was honored as a municipal police commander in the Liquica. Like many working women, she has balanced her role as a police officer alongside her role as a mother.