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Public Statement: Celebrating International Women's Day Be Bold For Change

Timor-Leste Women's Communication Forum (FOKUPERS) - March 8, 2017

Farol, Dili Today, on 8 March 2017, we come together as a collective of Timorese organisations to put forward our call for positive change; to bring about equality, justice and freedom for all women. We, along with many women across the world, struggle against patriarchal systems that promote the use of violence, struggle against inequality and the exploitation of us and the environment. We make this plea for change to everyone, and ask the Democratic Republic Government of Timor-Leste to recognise that the reality for East-Timorese women is that they continue to experience discrimination in all aspects of political, economic, social and cultural life.

From the political perspective discrimination begins with not having equal access to information and women's lack of participation in decision making. Despite guarantees for their participation within current legal frameworks, when it comes to implementation this guarantee is not realised. Until now women's participation in decision making at the local level has shifted from 2% to only 5% at the Suco level. Administrative posts and Municipal President positions are today held only by men.

Women do not have an equal opportunity to participate in the economy, to access economic markets, microfinance and the labour market. Women don't have equal access to own land, homes and basic infrastructure. This has a significant impact on the ability of women to improve their economic circumstance, locking them and their families in extreme poverty.

From a social perspective too many women experience gender based violence, most prevalent in the form of domestic violence. In 2016 FOKUPERS alone registered 189 cases. Because of their gender, women are at significant risk of becoming a victim of violence in their lifetime. This results from the unequal balance of power and control between men and women in the current patriarchal society and it's systems.

The Law Against Domestic Violence applies now but doesn't have a significant positive impact. Barriers for women to access formal justice continue because of a lack of understanding by the relevant authorities, the limited number of courts; traditional justice systems and practices are still strong in society and there isn't a high priority put on social support and assistance for survivors. Although Government has shown initiative in the development of the National Action Plan against Gender Based Violence (NAP-GBV) and adopted Resolution 1325 of the UN Peace and Security Council outlining responsibility for bringing positive social change through improved integrated service delivery, the implementation of these commitments is weak.

These deficiencies, outlined above, and the State General Budget demonstrate the poor political will of Government to commit to the implementation of change. Compared to 2015, investment in social services related to gender based violence, 2016's State General Budget has reduced significantly, by 15.2%. This current budget allocation is small when compared to the percentage allocated to infrastructure development; 3.9% for Health; 7.9% for Education; 10.19% for the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and 1% for other.

As the nation is about to celebrate International Women's Day, the Timor-Leste Women's Movement proposes the following actions for Government to ensure women's equal participation in it's development and the achievement of their human rights:

1. Implement election law that will increase women's participation in decision-making at the National level, including that women share equally the opportunity for placements in the list of candidates for the Parliamentary election, in administrative posts and in the municipalities.

2. All political leaders, during the election campaign must listen equally to women and to men, promote messages of national unity and guaranteed stability and ensure they do not give any message that would incite any form of violence.

3. Continue to enforce educational programs and services that bring about the elimination of gender-based violence against women in all forms, as they occurred in the past and now; including taking action to prevent dialogue that would incite violence and discrimination against women.

4. Provide the appropriate resources to implement the National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence, and demonstrate the political will required to implement CEDAW recommendations, the Convention for the Rights of the Child and the Resolution 1325 of the UN Peace and Security Council.

5. Enforce the implementation of the Law to Combat Human Trafficking and it's National Action Plan.

6. Prioritise the appropriate allocation of resources in the State General Budget for service providers implementing prevention and social support services.

7. Place a priority on resourcing and implementing programs that equally strengthen the economic and psychosocial circumstances of women.

8. Increase efforts to raise awareness about gender-based violence and create an environment where women do not experience any form of violence or discrimination in the future.

9. Ensure that all people in their homes, at school and in health care services are able to access clean water so that they can live a healthy life, as is their basic human right.

No Naran Organizasaun

1 Marilia da Silva Alves FOKUPERS
2 Yasinta Lujina MOFFE-TL
3 Dinorah Granadeiro Rede Feto-TL
4 Manuela Leong Pereira ACbit
5 Domingos Ximenes GFFTL
6 Edith Neto FFKSH
7 Paula corte-Real CAUCUS
8 Merita de Jesus Marques FEEO
9 Martinha da Silva FFHF
10 Isabel M.M Sequeira APSC-TL
11 Maria Evelina Iman Fundasaun Alola
12 Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves FOKUPERS
13 Marlita J.dos Reis MOFFE-TL
14 Denise Teresa MOFFE-TL
15 Sidalia M.F. Belo MOFFE-TL
16 Rosita Vital Rede Feto TL
17 Elizinha Soares FFHF
18 Laura Soares Abrantes APSC-TL
19 Luizinha G. Araujo FOKUPERS
20 Maria Jose Guterres FOKUPERS
21 Francisca Alves Taolin FOKUPERS
22 Agostinha Fraga Fundasaun Alola
23 Ivete de Oliveira FOKUPERS
24 Zelia Fernandes OPMT
25 Judite Dias Ximenes Rede Feto TL

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