Timor-Leste affirms ending gender discrimination an ongoing priority in commitment to the SDGs and Beijing Platform for Action (updated)

In its Constitution, Timor-Leste provides that men and women must be treated equally in all aspects of life, and it pledges to continue prioritizing actions to end gender discrimination and stop gender-based violence. Women actively participated in Timor-Leste’s struggle for independence, and now, at 38 per cent, the country has one of the greatest proportions of women parliamentarians in the world and the highest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Timor-Leste fully supports Sustainable Development Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and recommits to implementing the Beijing Platform for Action.

Speaking at the Global Leaders' Meeting on 27 September 2015, Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo said: “We consider the position of women and girls in our country a key test of our development progress, which means we must improve the situation of women and address pervasive gender discrimination if we are to meet our development goals.” [ Speech ]

Developments since Timor-Leste’s commitment

Timor-Leste has made great strides in increasing women’s political participation, currently having one of the highest rates of women parliamentarians in the world and the highest in the Asian/Pacific region. To encourage this trend at the village and district level as well, the Government has taken a number of measures. For example, the president of the National Parliament promulgated a new Village (Suco) Law in July 2016, imposing to have at least one woman per Suco stand for elections as Suco Chiefs (the highest position at the village level). In November 2016, 21 women were elected, representing 4.5 per cent of all Suco Chiefs.

The Government also approved the second National Action Plan on Gender-based Violence in February 2017, which aims at reducing and ultimately eradicating gender-based violence through a multi-sectoral coordinated approach, with four major pillars that include prevention, provision of services for survivors, improving access to justice, and increasing coordination, monitoring and evaluation.

Timor-Leste adopted the Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy, which provides small grants for women to increase their economic opportunities. The Government also continues to prioritize the empowerment of rural women through the implementation of a Maubisse Declaration signed in October 2015 by nine line ministries.

Moreover, the Government is committed to reviewing laws to change discriminatory practices, and will create new laws, and policies, to protect women’s rights in the coming years. [ Full update ]