International Women’s Day 2021 [A view of initial Focal Points Training]

Since 2014, CEPAD has supported the role of focal points in contributing to CEPAD’s main priorities of Good Governance work in Timor-Leste. They serve as source of information to increase community members’ participation and involvement in public debates, dialogues, discussions at the local level.

Through the European Union support, CEPAD has conducted two-day training in Dili, (4-5 March 2021) to 21 focal points from 10 Municipalities of Aileu, Manufahi, Ainaro, Liquiça, Ermera, Manatuto, Baucau, Viqueque, Lautem and Dili. This time, the two-day training placed a particular focus in increasing the focal points’ knowledge of the concept of freedom of information while working on their facilitation skills as to how best to encourage communities to use their right to be informed to ensure government accountability of COVID-19 and the use of the available resources which is important to improve women’s socio-economic situation. During the same period, the focal points initiated to increase their efforts to engage with communities by creating a Whatsapp group in order to facilitate information sharing and connectivity among them.

The 21 trained focal points included 11 women and 10 men, and among these there were participant with disabilities. These focal points are members of the communities and they are perfectly situated to inform and support their communities in remote areas particularly promoting the rights of poor rural women, one of the most vulnerable groups in the society.

“Now we want to build bridges for the future we want. This is our right and our responsibility, it is not a burden for us to continue to maintain it,” says Delfia Pereira Us-Boco.

During big group discussion, most of the focal points raised their concern on the different needs to access information in the rural areas, particularly by rural women and girls, “living in rural areas, formal state structures are often weak and people are not aware of their rights and obligation. Women become victims of discrimination and injustice. They do not have proper possibilities to access benefits from State policy for economic recuperation during pandemic, agriculture and education. Therefore we call on you women from all areas of this country-Wake up and come together to embrace our role.” (Focal Point, group presentation). The training event also provided the participants an opportunity to celebrate in anticipation the international women’s day.

In light with the celebration of International Women’s day, as reflected in the second day presentation from Mna Silvia representing woman with disability (RHTO). Mna Silvia Soares focused her speech to celebrate the day by not forgetting women with disabilities and the importance to activate communities to take part in promotion of human rights and equality for all women including women with disabilities. To conclude the training and celebrate the day, the focal points sitting together in a circle to further highlight that “We still have many circles to walk and inequalities to end. We need collective power, and this is what our circle of women focal points stand as leadership for an equal future”.