International Women’s Day is an excellent moment for Hivos Southeast Asia, together with our partners Fokupers and Acbit, to remind people about the long struggle women in Timor Leste have endured to arrive at what is a much better situation today. By celebrating this achievement on March 8 with our ‘Women’s Week of Action’, we hope to make people understand how hard the women of Timor Leste have fought for justice and dignity throughout this year.
In Timor Leste, based on the Survivor Project assessment’s findings, we found that many women face other forms of injustice and discrimination besides sexual violence. This is especially the case in rural areas, where women must travel long distances to reach services that attend to their basic needs, something which is supposed to be the government’s responsibility to provide. Starting on March 8, ‘Women’s Week of Action’ aims to bring more social change to Timor Leste by provoking debate, changing behaviors and increasing awareness to support survivors of sexual violence, enable them to lead a better life and encourage the entire population to become women’s partners in development.
Hivos has been working with Fokupers and Acbit on the Gender-Based Violence Survivor Program since December 2014. This program uses feminist-inspired participatory activities for survivor groups. The activities planned for the entire ‘Women’s Week of Action’ include a press conference on March 8, public debates about women’s health, Zumba dancing, launching the results of a women’s Needs Assessment and a ‘survivor goes to campus’ event.
The public debate will be held on March 10 in combination with an exhibit of products made by survivor groups, such as soap, traditional medicines, woven textiles, handicrafts and webbing. Afterwards, all participants will be invited to a Zumba dance in the afternoon. On 11 March the week continues with the launch of the Needs Assessment results, and culminates on 12 March with a ‘Survivors Go to Campus’ activity at Instituto Cristal.
Hivos believes in the power of people to become agents of change for justice and dignity and to overcome the injustice and discrimination that they, their family and their community face. This is also why we closely involve both men and women in the process of leveraging the women’s sovereignty in Timor Leste.