Sunday, January 6, 2008


The annual celebration of the International Women’s Day 2008 with the theme, “ Invest to Children and Women, Invest to Equality“ involved 5 members of Rede Feto that are based in the districts namely; FMF in Liquica, OMT/Finhada in Lautem, GFFTL in Baucau, Hari Aumetan in Dili, Sta. Bakhita in Manatutu, OPMT in Dili ( Metinaro and Hera). Rede Feto, in collaboration with SEPI and other stakeholders, celebrated the day in Dili with several activities as described below. On the other hand, the celebration in the districts went well because it were well participated in by the community leaders and people in the communities were the activities were held. The IWD celebration was aimed for Rede Feto to closely work in partnership with government agencies, in ensuring their programmes in promoting the advancement of women’s rights in the next five years and to ensure that government’s policies and budgets include provisions and/or allocations to women’s rights and gender equality.

1. The activities conducted to celebrate IWD’2008 included a workshop and a television programme over TVTL. The workshop conducted in Dili was conducted by two Rede Feto members, OPMT and Hari Aumetan. OPMT organized a three-day workshop in Metinaro, Hera and Dili on the 10-12 March 2008 that involved representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Commerce, Ministry of Economy and Development through the Secretary of State for Rural Development, representatives from UNFPA and Pradet. In Metinaro, 28 people attended the 10 March 2008 workshop which was divided into three parts. The first part was presented by the Head of OPMT, Ms. Lourdes Alves, on how to establish and develop women’s economic products in rural areas whilst the second part was about Mental Health (stress and trauma) which was presented by the Executive Director of Pradet. The third and last part of the workshop was about Gender-Based Violence which was facilitated by Ms. Mariquita Soares from OPMT.

The question raised in the workshop was about the community center that was established in 2007 to run small business, but it faced various problems such as limited financial support to buy materials. They asked the government officials present to help them solve the needs of the group to run their small business. Regarding the issues of gender based violence section; the participants agreed that one cause of domestic violence is misinterpretation of the culture. They suggested that we should nurture good values of culture and ignore the bad ones. The second workshop was held in Hera market on March 11, 2008 with 30 participants. The topics discussed were about Gender based Violence and mental health. This was facilitated by the Executive Director of Pradet, Mira Martins and Ms. Marquita Soares, members of OPMT and Representatives of State Secretariat for Rural Development. They talked about what is violence and types of violence, laws that protect women’s rights, organizations that provided services. Government Representative talked about program implementation and budget allocation to advance rural women. They are happy to involve women’s group in program training so that they can develop rural areas. The last section opened for discussion and answers. The third workshop was held in Dili at Xanana Reading Room with 28 participants. The activity was also attended by members of the government, UNFPA representative and Pradet. The topics discussed were Gender Based Violence, mental health, Rural Economic development. The subject for GBV was delivered by Abilio Belo and Maia from SEPI and Mental health was presented by Pradet Representatives and last subject was delivered by Representative of Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Commerce. Regarding to GBV issues, they identified the difference between sex and gender, which included difference of biological, roles, opportunity and access between women and men to any public information. They also identified what is gender based violence and to whom victim of gender based violence should complaint their cases and why domestic violence is considered a crime. The participants seem very enthusiasm to hear from facilitators and asked question whenever they get confuse. The second remark was presented by facilitator from Pradet which specific stress to what is stress and trauma and how to find solution. They also emphasis on why trauma occur and others external factors that affected to trauma. The last section was delivered by representative of ministry of trade and tourism, and her speech focused on the government program in the respective ministry and how they involved women in government programs.

Aumetan Hari’i

The workshop was held on 6 March 2008 at Becusi de Baixo and Romit with a total of 79 participants composed of village leaders, youths and women. The facilitator was a Brazilian sister, who shared about their programme in combating HIV/AIDs in Timor-Leste. The opening remarks or message was delivered by the village head, who welcomed the participants to the workshop and explained how it will enrich their knowledge on health promotion. The committee asked the Ministry of Health to provide information on the National Campaign on Prevention HIV/AIDS but unluckily they were busy that time hence the Brazilian sister was requested instead to provide information on HIV/AIDs. During the workshop, the participants were very interested in this issue because it was the first time for most of them to know about the programme of government, about HIV/AIDS, its effects and how to prevent HIV/AIDS. It was highlighted that in order to prevent the disease, adequate information have to be made available to all people to enable them to understand and work together towards the prevention of any kind of diseases and strengthen coordination between government and the civil society.

District Baucau

The workshop was held on 12 of March 2008 in Venilale sub district. The invited speakers were the ministry of education and state secretariat for rural development but they did not come because one got sick and the other had an emergency meeting in Dili. So, GFFTL invited Ms. Antoneita Rodrigues from a local organization in Baucau and head of sub district. Ms. Antonieta presented the topic of women’s participation in nation building and Gender based violence. There were 42 participants consisted of 10 men and 32 women. The participants came from illiteracy group project of GFFTL who have been their target group since 2002. The questions during the workshop were why only women’s day and not men’s day, why only have women’s convention and not regulate men’s rights, why Men only pay dowry/ barlaque and women do not pay, why husband and wives get divorce, it is considered as a rights to get divorce. Ms. Antonieta responded by saying that international women’s day was approved by UN because of several discrimination that was faced by women in all nation. For example; women were still considered as second class and have limited access to education, health, and others sectors. She also explained the background why UN approved women’s day. She emphasized that the discrimination toward women occurred everywhere including Timor Leste. It is a global issue that international and national institution should prevent it by coming out with policy legislation that promote and protect women’s rights. Regarding the women’s convention, she also emphasized that the constitution RDTL enshrine equality between men and women and previous government and national parliament signed and ratified seven treaties that promote women’s rights including men, women and children.

She also mentioned about the meaning of dowry/barlaque is to value women and established unity between two new families, but the implementation of Barlaque have been contradictory with the original concept. The changing between buffalos and pig and Traditional tais have several meanings. One is to value women’s dignity. In fact, it goes contrary with the original concept. The misinterpretation of the society on Barlaque has brought negative impact to women and it also caused domestic violence. Domestic Violence is considered as a crime and it should be processed in the court. The types of violence are four such as physical, psychological, sexual and economic. She said that the organization who provide assistance and the role and function of head of villages to assist women victim in their villages to seek for assistances.

The activity was ended by the Venilale sub-district head, saying that the information of women’s rights and gender based violence should always be disseminated to the community people for them to become aware of these issues on violence and work with organization that provide assistance to victims of violence including the police in each area. Community will also become aware that the domestic violence is a crime and not private case.

District Manatutu

The workshop was conducted in village Kairui in sub district of Laleia on March 6, 2008. The facilitator was a representative from the Ministry of Economy and Development and Rede Feto Executive Body. The workshop involved 96 participants composed of women 79 and men 17. The opening remark was conducted by the Kairui village head and the following section was delivered by Rep Ministry of Economy and Development. She explained the program of their department and how it related to advance women’s economically. The question raised by the participants was that the government did not pay attention to promote women’s local product such as Tais and weaving. They said that they want to produce more but their product was not valued with money. There is no market to buy local product and government have no policy to regulate local product activity. They asked government to promote local products rather than promote other international product. They asked government to provide them sewing machine to sew clothes for student uniform. They also asked training on management businesses. The Representative said that she will gather all the problems and needs and will present to her ministry to take into consideration of these issues.

The second section was delivered by Executive Director of Rede Feto on Gender Based violence. She explained the definition of gender based violence, its categories, laws that are applicable in promoting and protecting women and victims of GBV and seek for organization who provide assistance. The participants were very keen to know these issues because they thought that in their villages the GBV problems always occur and they only seek for mediation between victim and perpetuators. They also raised issues of divorce and its impact to women and children. According to participants, cases of abandonment always happen in the community and mostly women especially mother should take care of her children and without any assistance from their father. The situation made women vulnerable to any kind of violence and discrimination that occurs in society. Men are married with several women and do not responsibility to their first wives and growing up children. The executive director of Rede Feto answers their questions by explaining the applicable law that regulated the cases. The problems that occur is that the limited human resources in judicial system, regional court only in same districts and impeded the victim to seek for judicial system. She also emphasized that based on law no 5/2004 on local authority stated that one of the council of villages’ responsibility is to assist women victim in their community to seek for the organization that provide assistances. The last was closed by head of village and provide recommendation to Rede Feto to always strengthen and empower rural women so that women can participate in developing their nation.

Liquica District

The one day workshop was held on March 7, 2008 at Salaun Tokodede Liquica. The speakers were State Secretariat for professional training and business (SEFPE) and Abilio Belo from UNFPA. The total participants were 55, composed of 31 women and 24 men. They came from local Ngo, community leaders and youths from the sub-districts of Maubara and Bazartete.

The opening ceremony was delivered by State Secretariat and congratulated the women especially women in Liquica. He stated that the role of women now is to participate in nation building. Women should prepare and be ready to develop our new nation. He also stressed his program in his department to advance women’s rights. But he said he will elaborate in his coming section. The second speech was vice administrator of district Liquica and congratulated women in Liquica because of their contribution in process of development. She said that as women in council of village made important role because they should ensure the developing of their villages. She said that because of important role of women in nation building, she opened this workshop.

The second section was delivered by State Secretariat with topic to increase fund for education and training to develop women and children in rural area. He said that this government has commitment to advance women’s rights and established one department on gender equality.

He stressed that education is an important aspect to develop women’s to participate in nation building. Government has committed to provide free education and encourage women to enter high education such as university degree including master and PhD degree. He said that in the past, because of patriarchal system, family usually allowed men to get high education and ignore women’s as a human being who also have the same rights as men and what the consequences are. We see the gap between men who has high education is very high compare with women, men occupied decision making in all levels. He said that our time is different, we should change our patriarchal system that impede women’s life and limited women to get access to any information and training and other public services.

The second speaker is Mr. Abilio Belo from UNFPA on Gender Based Violence in Timor Leste. He started explaining the type of violence and categories into four such as physic, psychology, sexual and economic. And than the session open to question and answers. The participants interested in ask question on economic problems that was faced by families and it will create violence toward vulnerable people who live in one house. Others question about the misinterpretation of women’ rights that place women to be as men has. There are sexual violence cases that appeared in community but to bring to process in court are very slowly and make people do not bring their cases to court.

He answered the question by saying that domestic work should not only women who will do it but also men to contribute and finalize the work because if we only wait for women to do for us as men, we will burden her with a lot of works. And if she gets ill, who can replace her to do it. So we should share the domestic work to minimize women’s work at home.

The second question, he answered by referring to articles 17 in Constitution of Timor Leste that stated that equality between women and men. It means that equality of rights and not said that women should become as men. But women should have their rights as men have. One example, we can see 30 % quato for women in National Parliament. He also said that to reduce the violence toward women, we should work together from every aspect to combat it. In our society, we should raise awareness among people that violence against women is considered crime and society should assist the victim and bring to organization that provide assistance.

The last activity was growing plan near the river. It involved eleven representatives from ministry of agriculture, 25 students, 25 community leaders, participants of the workshops and community who live near the river.

Lautem District

Two day workshops were held in Lautem district which took place in center capital on 8 of March and one in Home village of Lautem sub district on 12 of March 2008. The total participants for the first workshop were 55 and the second workshop were 47 which came from local government representatives, members of PNTL, UNPOL, and heads of community, local NGOs, students, Gender Vocal point, and women representatives. The opening remark was conducted by head of district administrator which said that this day is important for Timorese women because our history has shown us that women’s contribution to our struggle for independence are very essential and it should follow by our young generation. Even our current situation is different but we should try to see the experiences and united of people of Timor Leste to fight for independence. He also stated that as a Timorese, we should work hard and unite to develop our new born country that faced a lot of obstacles in developing the country in the future.

After the opening remarks, the coordinator of FINHADA presented about the history of the International women’s day and focused her speech on the national topic. She also mentioned about GBV issues. She explained the definition of GBV and types of violence and identified organization that supports victim of gender based violence. The participants raised question about the important of public education on ending violence toward women, and it should do continuously in every sectors in all districts. They also suggested integrating gender based violence issues in school curriculum to valorize democracy and human dignity principles.

National Celebration

Rede Feto members were also involved in the national events that was organized by SEPI in collaboration with NGOs and other UN agencies including UNIFEM, UNFPA, etc. Rede Feto members brought their local products such as: tais, baskets and others souvenir items to the cultural night activities. The participants expressed their sincerest gratitude to the organizing committee because many people had appreciated and purchased from their products.

Television programme through TVTL

Rede Feto also invited its partners such as LUTA HAMUTUK and SEPI to participate in a TVTL Talk Show programme. They focused their messages on the year’s theme “Invest to children and women, Invest to equality”. Also tackled during the discussions were on gender mainstreaming policies and government’s allocation of budget that should take into account women and children. Luta Hamutuk stated that the total budget allocation to SEPI for the year 2008 is very small that support could not even reach the rural areas. H.E. Ms. Idelta Rodrigues, the State Secretary at SEPI stated that government adopts gender mainstreaming policies and thus allocated for this year, budget for the development of women and children in every sector in all line government ministries.



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