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Monday, February 13, 2012: Speech by H.E. Mrs Idelta Maria Rodrigues Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality at Third Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Advancement of Women Doha, Qatar


Third Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Advancement of Women
Doha, Qatar – 12-14 February 2012

Speech by H.E. Mrs Idelta Maria Rodrigues
Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

13 February 2012

Chair of the 3rd NAM Ministerial Meeting
Representative of the UN Women
Representative of the NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be here today. It is the first time that Timor-Leste has attended a NAM meeting on the Advancement of Women, although our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been active in other NAM initiatives. My office of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI) is the Government of Timor-Leste’s main body responsible for the design, execution, coordination and assessment of areas related to the promotion and defense of gender equality.

Madam Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We look upon the 2009 Putrajaya Declaration with great interest and find many parallels and common principles in our work, most specifically, we focus on the elimination of discrimination and enhancing access of women to realise their rights to good health, education, employment, decision-making, participate in politics and live in an environment free from sexual and gender based violence.

We also follow common principles of NAM members for equality within the family, according to the 2004 Doha Declaration, namely the concept of full and equal partnership of husbands and wives; and political, economic, social and educational policies to support mothers and fathers in performing their essential roles.

Timor-Leste has been a signatory of CEDAW since the restoration of independence in 2002 and supports the call on NAM members to ratify CEDAW if they have not yet done so. Timor-Leste has been committed to implementing CEDAW since the creation of the Office of the Advisor to the Prime Minister for the Promotion of Equality in 2002 and through its upgrading to be a Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality in 2007. The implementation of CEDAW has been done mainly through gender mainstreaming initiatives in the various ministries and secretaries of state through the engendering of legislation, policies, programmes, plans, activities and budgets. A notable development has been the upgrading of our Gender Focal Point mechanism to expand to Gender Working Groups within each ministry and secretary of state and within every district, only last August 2011.

Since Timor-Leste is a new country and only seeing its 10th anniversary this year, there have been a great many pieces of legislation and policies that have been developed to establish our institutions and systems. For example, in 2011 only, our Civil Code was passed, which establishes equality between men and women regarding the rights and responsibility within the marriage and family, as well as the same rights to inheritance and property. This will be particularly important to disseminate as much of Timorese life is currently governed by traditional practices and customary law which are contrary to formal law.

Our Labour Law was approved only two months ago. The Law safeguards the equality principle, prohibits any kind of discrimination based on gender and makes provision for equality between men and women regarding access to employment, work conditions and equal pay. This should facilitate women’s entry into the work force as currently women’s labour force participation rate is only half of men and only a quarter of the Public Service is composed of women.

Madam Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Parliamentary Election Law was amended to increase the quota of women on parliamentary candidate lists to a minimum of 1 out of 3. I would like to note that our previous Parliamentary Election law already had an affirmative action provision, where on candidate lists, 1 out of 4 candidates had to be women, and with this, we were already able to achieve 26% women in Parliament in 2002, rising to 29% in 2007, which brought Timor-Leste to rank 26th in the world. The revision of this election law is particularly timely, as we will have Presidential Elections next month, on 17 March, and Parliamentary elections shortly after that. This election, we have 3 women out of 14 candidates running for President. We are working on various activities to support women in politics, most significantly, a Women’s Political Platform that has been signed by 23 political parties and a Road Map that identifies and maps strategies and priority areas, activities and actors (from government, political parties, civil society and donors) to strengthen women’s leadership and participation in the 2012 elections as voters and candidates.

In 2010, the greatest achievement was the passing of our Law against Domestic Violence, which had been under development for 8 years. In 2011, a Working Group to draft a National Action Plan (NAP) on Gender Based Violence (GBV) was formed. This NAP on GBV will map out, cost and set up a monitoring framework of implementation of the Law against Domestic Violence.

In order to mobilize additional resources for gender mainstreaming by the ministries and secretaries of state themselves, the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality promotes gender responsive budgeting which will strengthen the ability of government to make gender-sensitive plans and budgets.

Thank you to the Governments of Qatar and Egypt for inviting Timor-Leste to the 3rd NAM Ministerial Meeting on the Advancement of Women and for giving us this opportunity as a young country to learn from the many members from around the world to foster South-South cooperation and for Timor-Leste to contribute our experiences to find realistic and workable solutions to promote the advancement of women and realize women’s empowerment and gender equality.

I thank you all for your kind attention.