National university of Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) and UN Women set the standard in the safe campus initiative

Date: Friday, May 29, 2020

Photo with UNTL Rector Dr. Francisco, UN Women’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Mr. Mohammad Naciri, UN Women staffs and UNTL staffs, and some gender advocates. Photo: UN Women / Helio Miguel

UNTL Rector Dr. Francisco M. Martins: “Zero Tolerance for Sexual Violence on Campus”

Sexual harassment in public spaces is highly global, including in Timor-Leste. A UN Women study on the safe city conducted between 2017-2018 in the capital Dili, highlighted that no women (including university students) feel safe in public spaces, including campus environments.

Taking a step forward to end this form of violence against women and endorse gender equality on university campuses, UN Women has partnerships with universities in various countries to support Safe Campus initiatives. Recognizing the importance of this partnership, UN Women Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Mohammad Naciri, noted, “Universities are important spaces of learning and shaping societies- they are spaces where critical thinking and inquiry take place. Universities create an environment where students and teachers come together to pose questions and explore the world around us, learning from the past and using research and data to find solutions to problems we need to solve for our future.”

Building on previous advocacy and recommendations from students, professors and (vice) rectors at the UNTL on the need to address sexual violence at the university, UN Women and UNTL signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the Safe Campus initiative.

“The initiative aims to prevent all types of violence against women in and around UNTL campuses, in order to create a safe and healthy environment for work and study. This aims at raising awareness and educating lecturers, administrative staff and students, and by doing so preventing all forms of violence on our campus. We are hoping this initiative will set a good example for other higher education institutions in Timor-Leste,” said UNTL Rector Francisco Miguel Martins. In implementing the Safe Campus initiative, the institution has taken the first step to monitor the situation and prevent any form of sexual and physical violence against students or any person on campus. 

Dr. Francisco Miguel Martins stated that UNTL has “zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault and also physical assault, if there are any cases happening on campus.” The Safe Campus initiative will contribute to the university’s policy for violence prevention and create mechanisms to support members of the university personnel and students in preventing violence. This commitment was echoed by UNTL students during the launch, who shared, “We in academia affirm that the Safe Campus initiative is one of the most important programs at UNTL to guarantee quality and well-being for all members of the university.”