Timor Leste

Timor-Leste  is a half-island former Portuguese colony, occupied by Indonesia from 1975-1999.  The first democratic legislative elections were held on 30 August 2001 and over 91 per cent of Timor-Leste's eligible voters elected a Constituent Assembly. In March 2002, the Constituent Assembly approved Timor-Leste's Constitution. The country achieved formal independence on 20 May 2002 resulting from the August 1999 UN-sponsored referendum. The University of Oxford held an academic consensus calling the occupation of East Timor a genocide and Yale University teaches it as part of its genocide Studies program. The 2005 report of the UN's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor (CAVR) reports an estimated minimum number of conflict-related deaths of 102,800 (+/- 12,000). Of these, the report says that approximately 18,600 (+/-1,000) were either killed or disappeared, and that approximately 84,000 (+/-11,000) died from hunger or illness in excess of what would have been expected due to peacetime mortality.   Timor Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the South East Asia Region. 66% of the population lives on less than USD$2 a day, with 80% of the population reliant on subsistence agriculture.  A strongly patriarchal country these values translate into widespread inequality and discrimination against women and girl children.  Ethnovision is working to reverse these statistics.


1.2 Million

population of Timor Leste


of women in relationships have experienced intimate partner violence



of the population live below the national poverty line



of local government seats are held by women


Dili, Timor Leste

2011:  Gender, Culture and Social Inclusion Advisory Services

In Timor Leste nearly 40% of women are aged 15 years and over, with 60% of women in relationships experiencing violence.  A new law legislating against domestic violence was introduced in 2010 but few women and men are aware it exists.  Only 20% of women in Timor Leste are paid for their labor hence most women are excluded from participating in the formal workforce prohibiting them from the opportunity to earn a stable income.  A strong patriarchal culture reinforces strict gender roles denying women a voice in decision making.  Women's representation in parliament is 38% due to electoral laws requiring one women in every three people on a party list however this does not translate down to the local and rural level for women.  In 2016 a new village-level election law was introduced to address this disparity.  In the 2016 election the number of women village chiefs doubled.  In 2011 Ethnovision facilitated a comprehensive gender assessment and audit of a leading water, sanitation and hygiene focused NGO working across Timor Leste.  A second consultancy was facilitated to investigate the interface of gender and culture amongst both mainstream and gender and women's focused community and non-governmental organisations.