Gender Equity in Timor Leste

2010 April Gender Equity in Timor Leste
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Kay Boulden

When the AWE delegation visited Timor-Leste in 2010, the country with a population of just over one million was still grappling with the massive task of rebuilding a shattered country. Independence did not bring an end to the struggles facing Timor-Leste and its people; rather, while it undoubtedly brought joy, it also delivered a new set of challenges.

Right at the top of the list were the needs of women and girls for freedom from violence, for access to quality education and health care, for equal access to employment and housing. The infrastructure of education was still in ruins after so many years of occupation and was being rebuilt from the ground up.

Kay also investigated the challenge of teenage pregnancy in a country where 90% of the population is Catholic, where poverty is endemic and health services few, access to contraception and termination is difficult, not only in physical and financial terms but also, often, in terms of individual and family beliefs and attitudes.