Timor-Leste (image courtesy of the MDG Achievement Fund)

Joint Programme

Supporting Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights in Nation-building of Timor-Leste

MDG-F Thematic Window

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Main Participants



Supporting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights

1. Introduction

The Joint Programme entitled Supporting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Timor-Leste (the Programme) sought to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual abuse, economic hardship and human trafficking. Institutionalization and national ownership were pursued by strengthening protection mechanisms such as the Law against Domestic Violence or the draft Law to Prevent Human Trafficking; strengthening the capacity of the government and other stakeholders; promoting economic empowerment of the most vulnerable; and improving support services for survivors. This report presents selected promising practices implemented under the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) Joint Programme, from which lessons and challenges for replication in the future have been drawn.

2. Initial Situation

For Timor-Leste, newly independent and one of the poorest countries in the world, achieving gender equality has represented a long-standing challenge. Women face limited access to health, education and employment, which makes them vulnerable to gender-based violence, especially domestic violence and both domestic and international trafficking.

Sexual and gender-based Violence (SGBV) is a critical issue for women in Timor-Leste. Domestic violence is the most reported crime to the National Vulnerable Persons Unit (NVPU) of the police.1 A study conducted in 2005 indicated that 47 per cent of women suffered physical, psychological or sexual violence by their partners. Others studies2 indicated that 38 per cent of women aged 15-49 experienced physical violence from the age of 15, and 36 per cent who were or had been married reported violence—physical, sexual or emotional—by their husbands or partners.

Domestic violence is still considered a private matter and survivors and their families often opt for family mediation or seek remedies using traditional justice. This, combined with the fear of family shame, has prevented survivors from reporting GBV/domestic violence (DV) cases to the police or relevant service providers. At the institutional level, however, due to inadequate facilities, non-existent Standardized Operation Procedures (SOP) for dealing with such cases and frequent rotation and insufficiently trained staff, the NVPU has encountered difficulties to respond to GBV/DV cases.

Women’s weak position in society also makes them vulnerable to both domestic and international trafficking, since Timor-Leste is a destination for sex trafficking of women to and from other Asian countries. There is reported national trafficking, but little reliable data available on its incidence and scarce services for support.

Since its independence, the government of Timor-Leste is committed to the protection of women’s and children’s rights, and has ratified international conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, their commitments had not been fulfilled due to the lack of relevant legislative frameworks, implementation plans and functional systems and procedures.

After domestic violence was declared a priority at the first National Women’s Congress held in 2000, a National Law against Domestic Violence (LADV) was drafted by 2004. However, the LADV had to be put on hold to ensure harmonization with the new Penal Code that was still being drafted. Similarly, comprehensive legislation for human trafficking adapting the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) was urgently required.

As the Alola Foundation was the sole national actor dedicated to combating human trafficking, in 2008, the Inter-Agency Human Trafficking Group started to discuss sustainable and coordinated actions involving different actors. The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAPCHT), presented in September 2009, was followed by the draft of the Law against Trafficking in Persons (LATP) in 2011.

The lack of reliable data and management system has also been an obstacle for capturing a clear idea of the extent of GBV and human trafficking in the country. The government has been mandated to establish a uniform data collection system to comply with the CEDAW General Recommendation. Articles 8, 16, and 23 of LADV refer to the recommendation further detailed in the National Action Plan on GBV (NAP-GBV). Likewise, the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP-CHT) and Child Protection Policy refer to the development of SOP to address human trafficking.

In 2010, Timor-Leste’s Law against Domestic Violence was passed by P arliament eight years after it was first drafted. “This law is very important for Timor-Leste, because domestic violence here is very common,” said Armando da Costa, Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI). “This law is not aimed at imprisoning people, but to honor human rights.”

In response to an internal crisis between 2006 and 2008, the Poverty Social Action Policy was developed and adopted by the Council of Ministers in January 2008. One of the schemes introduced in the policy was the conditional cash transfer scheme called “Bolsa da Mãe” (BdM). BdM provides a set amount of cash to specific vulnerable populations, particularly women-headed households. Children’s immunization and educational attainment were established as conditions to benefit from the scheme. According to the Baseline Study on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Study in Covalima and Bobonaro, financial difficulties can affect the relationship between husband and wife, leading to domestic violence, and can also encourage women to opt for or to force their daughters into prostitution. In this regard, the BdM also contributes to the prevention of GBV through the economic empowerment of vulnerable women.

Child protection and service providers supporting survivors of GBV and human trafficking exist mainly in the capital Dili, leaving the rest of the country with limited availability. They include NVPU and Child Protection Officers (in all 13 districts); Uma Mahon (shelters) run by NGOs and churches; Fatin Hakmatek (safe rooms) managed by NGOs; and NGOs that provide legal aid. Nevertheless, as pointed out in some reports including the CEDAW Initial Report in 2008, the ‘roles and responsibilities of individual organizations and government institutions had not been clearly defined, sometimes prohibiting the survivors of violence from benefiting from the range of assistance available from all the sectors.’3

While the concept of Gender-responsive Budgeting (GRB) is still new to Timor-Leste, the Government of Timor-Leste has taken some steps towards gender mainstreaming and gender-sensitive budget allocation. In 2008, the Government presented its commitment to promote gender equality through a Gender Integrated Approach (GIA). In the 2009 budget, the government reiterated its commitment to GIA. The specific Resolution on Formulating Gender-responsive Public Budgets (28/11), which calls on the government and parliamentary committees to use and apply GRB instruments, was approved by the National Parliament. The establishment of gender focal points and the subsequent Gender Working Group were the first steps to operationalize the Government’s commitments.

Finally, women’s NGOs in Timor-Leste have also advocated for increased government budget allocations for women’s needs and have maintained constant dialogue with the Parliament. The CEDAW4 alternative report prepared by NGOs in March 2009 addressed a wide variety of women’s concerns, including GRB, and increased women’s involvement in decision-making, such as determination of priority problems, planning and budget allocation.

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3. Objectives

The MDG-F Joint Programme on Supporting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Timor-Leste aimed at supporting the Government of Timor-Leste to improve the conditions of women and girls in Timor-Leste through protection of their rights and their empowerment. It was envisaged that the Programme would contribute to the realization of the UNDAF Outcome of ‘Consolidating stronger democratic institutions and mechanisms for social cohesion where the vulnerable population will benefit from quality social welfare and social protection services.’ The Programme worked toward the three following outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Improved protection of women and girls through the establishment of legal frameworks and mechanisms to uphold their rights;
  • Outcome 2: Reduced vulnerability of women and girls through improved outreach mechanisms and services, and the establishment of a social protection scheme;
  • Outcome 3: Improved social and economic situation of women and girls through fair allocation of resources using gender-responsive budgeting.

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4. Key Actors

In addition to UN Women (lead agency), UNDP, UNICEF, IOM and UNFPA as implementing agencies, a wide variety of stakeholders have actively participated in the implementation of the Programme. Among these are the Office of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI) at central and local (district and suco) levels, Ministry of Social Security (MSS), Ministry of Health, National Police, National Vulnerable Persons Unit (NVPU), Women’s Caucus of the National Parliament, NGOs, network members, as well as community members, including school children. Government actors as duty-bearers were expected to fulfill their responsibility to protect vulnerable populations through knowledge and skills building. Civil society actors were expected to advocate for women and children’s rights and the protection of survivors while enhancing the quality of their service provision through programme technical support and improved knowledge and skills.

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5. Strategy

The key strategy of the Programme was institutionalization and national ownership. While the Programme design was in large part led by the implementing UN agencies due to time constraints, needs and priorities based on their prior interventions and discussions with the government and civil society were reflected to the extent possible. In addition, the Programme was designed at the time of the country’s internal conflict (2006–2008), which considerably limited the possibility of government and civil society participation in this phase. The Programme adopted upstream and downstream interventions to influence gender equality and build the capacity of stakeholders in different spheres at the central and local levels.

Five districts with potential high risk of GBV, trafficking, and child abuse, including Dili, were selected for the implementation. For the institutionalization of knowledge and skills, technical trainings and support for development of practical tools and mechanisms were included in the Programme design.

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6. Progress and Results

Seven promising practices have been selected for documentation and are presented below under three categories: A. Support for legal frameworks and mechanisms; B. Support for outreach mechanisms and services provision; and C. Support for fair allocation of resources. These practices have been selected on the basis of interesting lessons learned and possible replication.

Support for Legal Frameworks and Mechanisms
Participatory Development of National Action Plans on Gender–based Violence and Human Trafficking (NAP-GBV)

SEPI-led multi-sectoral/multi-stakeholder participatory process for the NAP-GBV draft. The technical drafting committee, comprised of 17 stakeholders from various governmental and non-governmental institutions was formed under SEPI. Eight meetings were held to discuss the content and two national and four district consultations were organized to raise awareness and seek inputs and challenges related to GBV. NGOs were consulted based on their direct experience with analysing and treating the problem of GBV “from the ground.”

NAP-GBV focuses on four strategic priority areas of (i) prevention of gender based violence; (ii) provisions of services to survivors; (iii) Lori ba Justice (appeal to justice); and (iv) coordination, monitoring, and evaluation. It lays out specific goals, outcomes, outputs, activities, target groups, as well as a timeframe for implementation. Responsible actors are also clearly identified.

Wide consultation for development of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAP-CHT). A subcommittee was formed under the Interagency Human Trafficking Group and its members received training from IOM. The first draft of the NAP-CHT was shared and consulted on with 320 community stakeholders in 13 districts, including community leaders, service providers, teachers and students. The inputs from the community were taken into consideration and the document was finalized by February 2012. In parallel, several trainings on human trafficking were offered to almost 930 governmental and NGO personnel, and 2,310 suco (local) council members and community leaders.

Lessons learned and challenges

Participatory process and institutionalization are key for success. As described above, the wide consultative process used in developing the NAPs and led by the technical drafting committees was key for national ownership of the document. The programme design, which tightly combined the legal/policy aspect and the institutionalization of knowledge and skills, also helped national stakeholders to prepare for implementation.

Inclusion of costing and clear responsibilities in the NAP-GBV is an important step, but more detailed financial assessment is essential. The fact that the NAP-GBV identifies responsible actors and costs significantly improves planning and implementation. Nevertheless, even more specific budget analysis, such as human resource costs for implementation, is necessary. For instance, different stakeholders expressed their concerns that the implementation capacity at the district level was not sufficient.

Enhanced coordination between the government and NGOs for implementation of NAP-GBV. NGOs are identified as major partners in many areas, and especially in service provision and coordination between government and NGOs. Establishing national-level networks will be imperative for the implementation of the plan.

Joint Effort for Capacity-building of the Police and Institutionalization

UN joint manual and training on GBV investigations.Once the first draft of the GBV investigations manual was finalized under UNFPA coordination, a joint training of trainers (ToT) on GBV investigation was held. Twenty-one selected police officers from different districts, including the head of NVPU, participated in the event and received training on a very broad range of issues related to GBV and human trafficking.

Continuous strategic discussions towards institutionalization. One of the main concerns identified by UNFPA, NVPU, and other relevant stakeholders was the frequent rotation of NVPU police officers and their insufficient capacity and resources to respond efficiently to GBV cases according to the established standards. Therefore, measures to ensure a minimum of three years continuation of NVPU officers in their posts and inclusion of the GBV/DV training in the basic training at the police training centre have been included in the NAP-GBV. Most recently, the GBV investigation training has been institutionalized in the Police Training Centre and SEPI. Through UNFPA support, six courses on GBV investigation were organized for all ational police officers recruits at the Police Training Centre.

Lessons learned and challenges

Cohesion of donors/development agencies.UN agencies realized the importance of joint training for increased efficiency and effectiveness. In the security sector that involves various stakeholders and donors, close collaboration to minimize duplication and maximize the results is crucial. Strong partnerships with the Timor-Leste Police Development Programme (TLPDP) on the GBV investigations manual and provision of training also proved effective. This unity among donors and agencies transmitted a coherent and consistent message that was very well appreciated and received by the police and other stakeholders.

Budget constraints continue to be challenging. NVPU operates with facilities that are inadequate to perform their duties professionally and successfully. Without a specific government budget allocation, it is difficult for the Police Training Centre to regularly carry out basic GBV training. It is essential that advocacy for increased budget allocation is emphasized through different channels, including the governmental Gender Working Group and non-governmental GRB working group, if the situation is to improve.

Outreach to Community-level Stakeholders

Outreach of the Law against Domestic Violence with ‘easy to understand’ materials. With UNFPA technical support, SEPI developed a simple ToT manual on LADV targeting suco-level audiences such as suco chiefs, council members and local referent networks. The manual includes case studies, role plays, and interactive discussions. A total of 442 suco council members and 256 referents from local networks were trained. A simple brochure on the LADV was produced and used for awareness-raising. This booklet explained the key elements of the law and ‘a step-by-step’ case reporting process with photos.

“There are misunderstandings in the public about whether the (Domestic Violence) law will weaken families, so we have to raise awareness to change mistaken negative perceptions of the law. We want people to understand that domestic violence is a crime and that violence in the family hurts families.”

Armando da Costa, Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI)

16 days activism campaign as an opportunity for outreach. The theme of the campaign, ‘The Law against Domestic Violence, protecting me, protecting my family,’ was chosen to highlight that the law was conceived to keep families together and not to separate them, as was commonly perceived. In 2011, the Association of Men against Violence (AMKV) joined the campaign and played a key role in tackling the resistance shown by men to the approval of the law. While this initiative was successful, the targeted audience was very limited and improvements must be considered for the future.

Joint Directory of service providers for GBV and trafficking. UNFPA, IOM and the Alola NGO produced a booklet entitled “Who Can Help” that listed contacts of useful services in case of GBV in Dili and each district. This booklet was conceived for use by service providers, schools, hospitals and suco-district officers. To reach children and illiterate persons, posters with emergency numbers were printed and displayed in these locations.

Community-based innovative awareness campaign. IOM reached 2,540 people through different community-based awareness campaigns on human trafficking (awareness-raising in five districts, trained journalists, advocacy through newspapers, TV shows). Moreover, three small grants per district were assigned to communities to develop innovative awareness-raising campaigns.

Innovative Awareness Raising on Human Trafficking through Art Performances

In Dili and Baucau Districts, awareness-raising on human trafficking through drama performance and music were proposed directly by the sucos. To respond to their request, IOM supported sensitization of performers, and provided a selection of good case studies as well as a storyline for the actors selected by the community. The drama performance was open to all members of the community. In Baucau, local youth composed and performed music with the lyrics focused on human trafficking. IOM also cooperated with MTV Exit and developed a programme on combating human trafficking in Tetun, the local language, which was broadcast and viewed in two districts. Considering the high rates of illiteracy, especially in the districts, this type of community‐based socialization is an excellent and effective approach that other communities and stakeholders can replicate.

Two layers of Trainings for Trainers. UNICEF carried out extensive outreach for child protection, reaching all the sucos in 13 districts through two layers of ToT. First, Child Protection Officers (CPOs) in 13 districts were trained as trainers. In a second phase the CPOs trained the members of the Child Protection Network (CPN). Finally, CPN members were able to address targeted audiences, in particular students and children. Different types of materials such as child protection flip charts, guidelines, posters, booklets, and brochures where produced and distributed.

Lessons learned and challenges

Continuous awareness-raising at the community level is key for changing the mindset. There are many social and cultural factors that create barriers to mindset change regarding GBV and human trafficking, among these patriarchal society, consideration of GBV as a private matter and the role of community leaders in mediating cases. For these reasons it is important that people have a chance to better understand domestic violence and human trafficking. This can be achieved by constantly providing information on relevant national laws and involving the community as active participants in the awareness-raising process.

Information education and communication (IEC) strategy for harmonized and joint public awareness. Although some joint IEC initiatives were undertaken, more coordinated public awareness activities could have been organized under the UN Joint Programme. If a joint IEC strategy would have been developed at the initial stage of the Programme, more synchronized actions with a consistent message could have been delivered and the visibility of the Programme would have been higher.

Anger Management Training for Prisoners

As part of the IEC initiatives, UNFPA supported Anger Management Training for GBV/DV offenders to prevent recidivism. This initiative was based on the anger management training manual developed by UNFPA in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice in 2006. In cooperation with SEPI, the National Department of Prison Service (NDPS) and the Ministry of Justice, this initiative was replicated in 2010 and 2011. Ninety-two people (mostly prisoners and some prison guards) received trainings on how to identify and manage emotions and anger, how to manage stopping violence in relationships, and how to maintain non-violent relationships. The sessions also included meditation and yoga as methods for anger control. The participants also received information on the LADV. In addition, trainings were organized to target the correction officers in Gleno and Becora prisons who dealt with the offenders, and 40 officers participated in total. Currently, the DPTS has requested that all corrections officers in Timor‐Leste (over 200 staff) undergo this training and that the training is permanently included in the programmes of the prison services. Furthermore, based on recommendation from prisoners, anger management training will be carried out in one of the districts with higher risk of violence, and the participants will be youth who belong to martial arts groups.

Support for Outreach Mechanisms and Services Provision
Reduced Vulnerability of Women and Girls through Bolsa de Mãe (Conditional Cash Transfer)

Improved identification of vulnerable women. UNDP supported the development of a technical note on policies and implementation guidelines of the ‘Bolsa da Mae’ (BdM). This technical note outlined and defined vulnerability identification criteria and operational procedures for the conditional cash transfers. This intervention was much needed to provide fair access to resources for the most vulnerable while mitigating the potential tensions in the family. To ensure the link with increased attainment of education and vaccination, a monitoring system for compliance with conditionality was also strengthened. The technical note contributed to the >Bolsa de Mae Decree Law promulgated in April 2012.

Systematization of beneficiary data.The establishment of a central database system for BdM along with the registration of ongoing beneficiaries contributed to the systematization of information allowing the Ministry of Social Security (MSS) to access beneficiary profiles at both the central and district levels. This also enabled a more accurate selection of beneficiaries along with improvement of general implementation and monitoring. By February 2012, over 15,000 beneficiaries in 13 districts were registered.

Building the capacity of the district staff to systematize data and link it to the central data system was a remarkable success. Twenty-one MSS staff members, 13 CPOs in the districts, and 65 social animators in sub-districts have been trained and are now capable to monitor, carry out evaluations, collect data and identify possible beneficiaries for the cash transfers.

Better access to social protection for vulnerable population. Vulnerable women have better access to social protection through access to cash, education and health for their children. According to interviews with beneficiaries in Oecussi, Suai and Dili districts nearly all would spend the cash for their children’s schooling. It has been acknowledged that economic vulnerability can trigger domestic violence; therefore, the BdM scheme represents an input towards prevention. A divorced woman who was interviewed during the BdM disbursement in Metinaro district of Dili said that she had experienced domestic violence due to financial difficulties. Now she feels protected and empowered, and she can send her children to school.

Lessons Learned and challenges

Missing linkage with vulnerability to GBV. The re-defined criteria and registration questionnaires for BdM scheme do not contain information on vulnerability to GBV. For the future, the MSS and UNDP suggested to use the data available so that potential victims and survivors are informed of the existence of the BdM scheme and can have access to its benefits. The database will also be shared among the three Ministries of Education, Health, and Social Solidarity.

Missed opportunity of a strategic linkage with Gender-Responsive Budget (GRB). Stressing the strategic linkage between the BdM scheme and GRB would have allowed the MSS to advocate more strongly on the need to increase the BdM budget as it related to access to health and education.

Support to Strengthening the Referral Mechanism and Service Provisions for Child Protection, Human Trafficking and GBV

Development of SOPs and capacity building on GBV. With UNFPAs technical support, two comprehensive SOPs on GBV and GBV data collection were developed by the MSS. The SOPs aim at guiding service providers to respond to all forms of GBV in a coordinated and multi-sectoral manner. They explain the fundamental principles, roles and responsibilities of each service provider. The SOPs also include interview guidelines, reporting, legal assistance, case management and step by step referral pathways. The SOPs were launched in all 13 districts and addressed to 256 stakeholders from various service providers. The existence and implementation of the SOPs will also contribute to quality control of the services and data collection as a whole (elements of recording, analysis, and information management including data sharing and confidentiality).

Targeted referral guidelines for child protection and capacity building. With UNICEF support, referral guidelines for child protection were developed targeting two different audiences. A comprehensive ‘step by step’ guideline was addressed to the child protection network members, and an ‘easy to understand’ message was targeted to communities and children. The first one provides clear information on the responsible actors and actions, while the second one focuses on ‘whom to inform’ when children experience or witness violence/exploitation.

Medical forensic examination institutionalized and available at the regional level. An area that became crucial with the adoption of the LADV is the medical forensic examination, which can provide the necessary physical evidence in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. With the assistance of the AusAID Justice Facility and UNFPA, the MDG-F supported the local NGO PRADET to improve and finalize the original medical forensic examination protocol and to carry out pilot trainings for its use.

Enhanced Coordination Mechanism. Establishing and strengthening the coordination mechanism in Dili and at the district level improved the communication among service providers and enabled timely support to the survivors. Two government-led GBV working groups were formalized in Dili and several local referral networks were established in the districts. The Directorate of the National Social Reinsertion in the MSS coordinates the service providers meetings to ensure coordinated responses to GBV cases as well as child protection issues, whereas SEPI coordinates the strategy and advocacy meetings. Even though the Child Protection Network existed prior to the MDG-F Programme, numerous trainings and operational support strengthened the network and regularized the meetings. The monthly national-level meeting, which is attended by all the CPOs, is now also used as a forum to discuss and coordinate DV issues with the Women’s Unit of MSS.

Increased Capacity for Medical Forensic Examination

With the assistance of the AusAID Justice Facility and UNFPA, the MDG‐F supported the local NGO PRADET to improve the original Medical Forensic Examination Protocol ( MFP ). This Protocol was endorsed by the National Institute of Health (Ministry of Health) in late 2010. With MDG‐F support, 20 midwives and doctors from five hospitals in five districts (Oecussi, Suai, Baucau, Maliana, and Maubisse) have been trained in the use of the MFP and graduated in April 2012. Given the lack of consistent electricity supply, computers, printers and photocopy machines in many locations where this kind of examination is performed, carbon paper is used in order to have a duplicate of the evidence recorded. Such a simple idea can make a difference. Prior to the recent graduation of health care workers on the use of the MFP, Dili‐based PRADET was the only organization that could provide a medical forensic examination, and survivors who did n ot have access to the service in the districts had to be brought to Dili. Now that 20 nurses, midwives and doctors have acquired this knowledge and that new Fatin Hakmateks (safe rooms) have been (and will be) established in Oecussi, Suai and Maliana, it is expected that an increased number of survivors will be able to undergo this examination according to the national recommendations. This, in turn, will support the efforts of the Office of the Prosecutor to proceed to trial, relying now on solid physical evidence and not only on witness testimony.

Lessons learned and challenges

Absorption capacity towards actual implementation is still a challenge. As the plan for annual training and continuous operationalization of the SOPs has already been included in the NAP-GBV, it will be crucial for the government to allocate sufficient funding to guarantee continuity. Furthermore, some officers, especially CPOs, NVPU staff and service providers such as NGOs are responsible for all three areas (GBV, child protection and human trafficking). Due to the fact that the training was provided in the same period, it may take time for them to clarify and absorb each procedure.

Cross-reference and complementarities of SOPs. Whereas the SOP on GBV makes reference to the Child Protection Referral Guidelines and the SOP on Human Trafficking, the latter do not link with each other in a comprehensive manner. It could be partly because the documents have been developed in two different moments. One of the service providers expressed some confusion about the different procedures and suggested comparisons and clarification of the three procedures in
the future.

Sustainability of the referral networks at the district level. Despite the enhanced referral networks and procedures in place, some challenges remain. A local GBV referral network in one of the districts used to be coordinated by a local NGO, but, in accordance with the LADV, the coordination role has now been handed over to the MSS. NGOs at the focus group meetings have noted that the network has been inactive despite enhanced referrals. This inactivity may be attributed to the heavy workload of the CPO, lack of skills or insufficient budget. It appears that the capacity and feasibility to operate the networks may need to be discussed among the stakeholders, who could consider either increasing the human resources or delegating the coordination role to another service provider as a temporary measure, so that the momentum and solidarity of the networks are not lost.

Enhanced conditions for achieving formal justice are necessary. Despite the existence of the LADV and penal code, GBV survivors continue to face challenges to bringing their cases to court. The main reasons include lack of knowledge about formal justice mechanisms, lack of confidence, economic dependence on perpetrators, lack of community support and cultural constraints, geographical constraints to access courts and weak capacity of judicial and police actors.

Support for Fair Allocation of Resources
Support to Strengthening Institutional Capacity on Gender

Increased knowledge of and interest in GBR by government stakeholders. One of the key achievements in GRB is the increased interest of government stakeholders achieved through training and south-south exchange on good models implemented in Mozambique and India. After a GRB assessment that showed the baseline and capacity of GRB in Timor-Leste, needs for capacity building were identified. As a response, several trainings were conducted accordingly, addressed to the targeted stakeholders. SEPI staff, parliament members and civil society received training on GRB and budget analysis and the Annual Action Plan (AAP). The Inter-Ministerial Gender Working Group (IM GWG) also was sensitized on GRB and gender mainstreaming in their work. Selected SEPI staff was trained through the ToT in order to be able to reach other ministries and district-level GWGs. SEPI played a key role in reviewing and providing inputs in sectoral AAPs and budgets of several ministries and secretaries of state. The fact that 20 per cent of the Ministry of Education and Health budget is targeted to women and children, and the budget for implementation of LADV in 2011 has reasonably increased are attributed to SEPI and the Ministry’s effort.

Other ministries also took action in this direction. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Ministry of Social Solidarity have initiated the GWG meeting for strategic gender mainstreaming discussion within the Ministry. They have identified institutionalization of knowledge as one of the crucial actions and have requested UN Women for technical assistance in conducting internal trainings on the GRB concept and GRB analysis of the AAP.

Development of GRB tools for institutionalization of knowledge. Under SEPI’s leadership three comprehensive tools were developed during the training process. The GWG resource kit is targeted for all the GWG members. As the appointment of GWG members was still underway at the time of developing the kit, it will be used in the future for new members. SEPI, with support from UN Women, will continue to carry out trainings at district levels using the resource kit. The second tool is GRB strategies/guidelines for civil society, and the third is a comprehensive GRB training package for different stakeholders and new staff. The development of these very useful tools will take forward the gender mainstreaming and GRB work at national and district levels.

Costing for the NAP-GBV. Costing of the NAP-GBV carried out with NAP-GBV stakeholders was a significant achievement. It played a key role as an advocacy tool for the budget request and allocation, as well as identification of gaps. Each activity cost was estimated and therefore each implementing agency and partner was aware of the budget for respective activities. As the implementation proceeds, however, the necessity of more detailed costing and additional requirements, especially for human resources, have been identified. SEPI and stakeholders could consider elaborating on the costing.

Lessons Learned and challenges

Implications of late start on implementation. An overall challenge for the GRB component was the late start of the implementation due to organizational changes of UN Women and difficulties in recruiting the staff. As a result, capacity building training and tools development were significantly delayed. Due to the tight schedule of the training, trainees did not have enough time to internalize and apply their new skills.

Strengthening of enabling environment for GRB implementation. The Director of Planning at SEPI pointed out the challenges for implementation of GRB during an election year, which hampered the process and diverted the politicians’ and governments’ interests. While the appointment of the GWG members was underway prior to the elections, the changes in the political structure that were to be announced in early August 2012 may also have had an impact on the appointment and the operationalization of the GWG system. There is no installed mechanism to ensure GRB in the budget process at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and having MoF more involved in the institutionalization of GRB is essential. SEPI is also advocating for membership in the Budget Review Committee to influence the budget review more effectively.

SEPI-led process for capacity building with increased practical application of their skills is important. A coordinator was appointed within SEPI to accelerate implementation of capacity-building. As a result, staff was provided with mentoring and hands-on training for project management, including management of a team of experts in GRB, procurement processes and financial procedures. One of the main lessons learned was the insufficient involvement of the trained SEPI staff in the actual provision of training and development of tools. While SEPI staff had some opportunities to facilitate and train the district GWG members, further use of their new skills could have been maximized. Co-facilitation of the training or mentoring by the trainer (expert) will be a good approach for the staff practical training. In developing the GRB strategies and guidelines for civil society, involvement of civil society in the process could have been also maximized.

Pool of trained trainers at the national level. A significant number of government, parliament and NGO staff received initial training on GRB. Tools and guidelines will be all available by the end of the Programme. It is a priority not to lose this positive momentum and continue with the training and application of the new skills, strengthening coordination between and among government, civil society and the parliament. To further institutionalize the GRB knowledge across the government and the civil society, it was suggested to create a team of trainers in charge of training institutions and civil society.

Strengthening the NGO GRB Working Group

Increased knowledge on GRB and its practical application. To introduce the concept and roles of NGOs in the area of GRB, UN Women organized several workshops where NGO advocates enhanced their understanding and knowledge on this topic. The workshops not only introduced the concept but also involved hands-on exercises to analyse the government budget. “This practical application of the analysis was eye-opening for us to unpack the government budget and use the result as an advocacy tool,” said one of the NGO participants. They also found that mentoring by the consultant on their analysis of the government budget was very helpful.

Collective advocacy as an NGO GRB working group. With the support of UN Women, the NGO GRB working group was gradually established to enhance their joint work and advocacy, and started to meet monthly after the first GRB training. The working group played a key role to unite women’s NGOs and non-traditional partners, i.e. NGOs for transparency. Despite the very recent creation of the group, it actively discussed joint actions, advocated and started to write joint letters to the government. During 2010, they had written joint request letters to SEPI, the President of the National Parliamen, and the Ministry of Finance to advocate for NGOs’ increased role in monitoring gender-responsiveness, and actively participated in the budget hearing. In October 2011, the NGO GRB working group submitted a formal question to the National Parliament requesting the following:

  • To provide enhanced support to GBV survivors through:
    • Establishment of shelters (Ministry of Social Solidarity)
    • Establishment of a crisis centre (Ministry of Health)
    • Inclusion of curriculum on Law against Domestic Violence (Ministry of Education)
    • Provision of vehicles to National Vulnerable Persons Unit (NVPU) and National Police of East Timor in 13 districts (Secretary
      of State on Security)
  • To increase the budget for the CEDAW Committee.

The NGOs’ demands partly met. Dialogue with the Parliament was strengthened in the past two years. The NGO GRB now has a regular meeting with the Parliament Commission that deals with gender issues to share information and advocate for an increased budget. They have continued to lobby regarding the above request, and as a result, they managed to get a positive response and the following actions have been taken to date:

  • Two shelters are in the process of construction;
  • LADV has been included in the curriculum for secondary schools and above;
  • 15 vehicles have been allocated to NVPU;
  • Discussions on the establishment of the Crisis Centre is under way; and
  • A budget of US$67,000 was allocated to the CEDAW Committee.

Joint study tour increased communications between the government and civil society. Representatives of the NGO GRB working group also participated in the GRB study tour to Mozambique and India supported by the MDG-F. This, besides increasing the knowledge of GRB mechanisms, enhanced information exchange and discussion among the Timorese government and civil society participants. The multi-sectoral composition of the group created a good environment for joint thinking.

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7. Sustainability and Replication

The overall design and the main strategy of this Programme, namely institutionalization and national ownership, are closely linked to its sustainability.

1. Support to the legislation on domestic violence and human trafficking, and their action plans contributed to making the Government responsible and accountable for its commitment towards prevention of such cases and protection of survivors. In case of the NAP-GBV, long and short-term goals along with costing for the next three years and specified responsible actors are key factors for sustainability.

2. Support to operationalization through capacity-building and development of protocols and tools was an essential element of the programme towards institutionalization and sustainability. Amongst the different trainings in the programme, institutionalization of the GBV Investigation at the end of the MDG-F Programme implementation demonstrated the success of sustainability. Governmental and non-governmental stakeholders were involved in the development of protocols and tools; final documents were translated and made available in the local language (Tetun); and the stakeholders received relevant training to apply them. Moreover, an initiative such as the two layers of ToT in child protection to reach grassroot level actors also contributed to sustainability. Support to and strengthening the networks systematized the mechanism towards sustainability.

3. Political will and sufficient government budget allocation are key for sustainability. Despite all the positive aspects above, implementation of the plans, the performance of each actor and the operationalization of networks and meetings after the MDG-F Programme period hinge on the political will, sufficient government budget allocations and the motivation of the responsible actors. The Government’s commitment to gender equality, especially in its operationalization and budget allocation, is still weak. To advocate and support the Government to take a more gender-sensitive approach to its budget planning and allocation, the Programme also attempted to institutionalize GRB. GRB still being a new concept for Timor-Leste, continuous capacity-building and mentoring, as well as monitoring for government and civil society actors will be essential.

Scaling up


Further technical and financial support to implementation of the NAP‐GBV: sustainable quality service provision, capacity-building, and continuous public awareness-raising.

Technical support to costing of the NAP-CHT and its operationalization upon approval of the NAP‐CHT and the LAHT similar to the support to NAP‐GBV.

Further technical support to GBV data collection and its systematization.

Support to the government‐led, multi-sectoral and participatory process for developing policies and actions plans.

Support to strengthening/establishment of the local referral networks (GBV, child protection, human trafficking).

Support which combines policy/ legislation development and capacity-building of stakeholders

Continued and scaled up capacity-building support to government stakeholders on GRB at the national, district and sub-district levels including establishment of a systematized pool of experts.

UN joint/coordinated training as a model for aid‐effectiveness

Continued technical and financial support to NGO GRB working group

Community‐led/based public awareness raising

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1. National Statistics Directorate, Ministry of Finance.‘Timor-Leste Demographic and Health Survey 2009-2010’.

2. Office of Secretary of State for the Promotion of Gender Equality, ‘National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence’, May 2012; UNFPA, ‘Gender Based Violence in Timor-Leste Case Study’, October 2005; Asia Pacific Support Collective Timor-Leste (APSCTL), ‘Baseline Study on Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Cova Lima and Bobonaro’, August 2009.

3. CEDAW General Recommendation No. 12 (4).

4. NGO Working Group on the CEDAW Alternative Report, ‘NGO Alternative Report, Implementation of Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).’ March 2009.

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