Timor-Leste: Promoting the inclusion of women and youth
March 1, 2013
To address issues pertaining to the disproportionate impact of Timor-Leste’s harsh economic conditions on its women and youth, a National Validation Workshop was held today to review and validate recent research findings and recommendations.
Interpeace’s local partner, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), was asked by the UNESCO Office in Jakarta, Indonesia, to conduct the study and find creative initiatives that could promote the social and economic inclusion of women and youth in Timor-Leste.
As it has been just ten years since the restoration of independence in 2002, Timor-Leste is undergoing the transition from post-conflict reconstruction to achieving sustainable peace and development. Despite the gains in establishing state institutions and democratic safeguards that were displayed by the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, Timor-Leste faces several challenges that must be addressed to best ensure continued development.
A key element in upholding the state’s stability is the incorporation of all groups, particularly women and youth, into Timor-Leste’s social and economic framework in the face of a rapidly growing and urbanizing population, high youth unemployment and widespread poverty.
The economic conditions most heavily impact Timor-Leste’s women and youth, as is demonstrated by the persistence of gender inequalities in paid employment and in the growing frustration among the youth due to lack of employment and income generation opportunities.
Recommendations for inclusion
The team held several workshops across the country to get input from Timorese citizens on how to alleviate the situation. The research focuses on participants’ knowledge and experiences at the community level, exploring locally owned recommendations for promoting the inclusion of women and youth. A key opportunity identified by the research includes linking income generation for women and youth with the preservation and promotion of Timorese culture. Additional areas of focus pertain to finding creative solutions to ‘increase local demand for local products’ and overcoming cultural norms that form barriers to the education and professional training of women and girls.
In his opening remarks, João Boavida, CEPAD Executive Director, stated: “This research seeks to move beyond the widely used rhetoric of promoting equal opportunities for youth and women through economic development. Instead it identifies and problematizes the key challenges and opportunities for sustainable income generation activities which capitalize on local knowledge and customs. Within the Timorese context, the challenge remains on how to effectively and creatively advocate for youth and women’s economic independence by helping them to help themselves.”
Other speakers at the Workshop included Charaf Ahmimed from UNESCO Jakarta and members of the Timorese political leadership including Sr. Miguel Margues “Manetelu”, Sr. Nominando Soares Martins, Sr. Illidio Ximenes and Sra. Jacinta Luzinha. The research was presented by Agustinho Caet and Joana Maria Viegas.