29October 2015

Dili, Timor Leste –Five women parliamentarians[1]elected in the elections held late last year and five representatives of women’s rights organizations[2] from Fiji are currently visiting Timor Leste. The exchange facilitated by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD), Feto Iha Kbiit Servisu Hisamuk (FKSH), Caucus Iha Politika and the Fiji Women’s Forum aims to enable women parliamentarians to exchange experiences, share approaches to transformative leadership, collaboration and solidarity as well as increasing women’s political representation and participation. “I am happy to be here with my fellow women parliamentarians and women’s organisations, talking about how we can all work together”, said Assistant Minister of Health and Member of Parliament, Veena Bhatnagar.

Timor Leste has one of the highest rates of women’s representation in national parliament in the world. Women parliamentarians, through the parliamentarian caucus, have also found ways to collaborate across party lines to advance legislation that focuses on women’s rights. “I am inspired to see how women parliamentarians in Timor Leste speak in one voice through the women parliamentary caucus,” said Member of Parliament Jilila Kumar. This model of leadership is particularly critical in countries or communities transitioning to democracy and dealing with the legacy of conflict.

The exchange also spoke of the importance of a strong movement advocating for gender equality and women’s rights. Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa shared, “political will and proper budgetary allocation is necessary to advance both the representation of women and mainstreaming gender equality, and this is where a multi-sectoral approach, from ministries to civil societies and women’s rights organisations working in cohort to bring about a change in mindset to effect the needed transformation.”

Following the exchange a number of parliamentarians will remain in Timor for a meeting of the Pacific Island Women’s Caucus where they will discuss critical regional and global issues requiring solidarity across countries; this includes the recent adoption of Agenda2030, the new Sustainable Development Agenda and the critical Paris meeting on Climate Change beginning next month.

Interviews with some participants can be arranged on request. Contact Diyana Yahaya at +66803492011 or Gizela de Carvalho at +67078136315.

[1]Assistant Minister for Health Veena Bhatnagar; Assistant Minister for Local Government Lorna Eden; Leader of the Opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa; Member of the Opposition Salote Radrodro; and Government Backbencher Jilila Kumar

[2] Tara Chetty (Fiji Women’s Rights Movement), Losana Tuiraviravi (Fiji Women’s Forum); Bulou Lavenia Cabebula Yavala (SSVM); Frances Tinai Tawake (FemLINK); Fay Evangeline Volatabu (NCWF)