UNTAET, which will make the final decision on this after considering recommendations from the National Council, has received the proposal very negatively, arguing that quotas infringe the concept of free and fair elections. Yet there are several precedents of elections conducted using quotas to favour women's election in this way. They have been used in Bosnia, India, and South Africa to good effect over the past decade. There are also numerous UN resolutions, documents and statements which make it clear that women's full participation in political structures, political parties, and government is vitally important.
REDE feels that it is imperative that the constituent assembly, which will agree East Timor's constitution, is composed of at least 30% women, and preferably more, so that women's concerns are adequately reflected. REDE is making its views plain to both UNTAET and to East Timor's political parties.
East Timorese women have been politically marginalised for long enough. They have made it clear that they want to have a much stronger voice in the new East Timor. If quotas are denied them, they will lose an important means of ensuring that women's voices are taken seriously through a proper engagement with the discussion and adoption of the constitution.
CIIR calls upon individuals, NGOs, solidarity groups and East Timor
networks everywhere to add your support to REDE's concerns and to lobby
the United Nations in New York, your governments, and UNTAET to take into
account the legitimate aspirations of East Timorese women.
Mrs. Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, Fax: 41 22 917 9016
Your Ambassador to the UN
Sir Kieran Prendergast, Department of Political
Affairs, UN Plaza, 10017 New York, USA
Fax: 212 963 2979 (Electoral Assistance Division).
Sergio Vieira de Mello, UNTAET, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, C/O UN Plaza
5-6 REDE: Women's Network statement to Brussels donor conference
"If the goal is a sustainable political and administrative transition than it must be capable of involving the people in the most informed and inclusive manner possible. The transition can not be of the elite, it must be of the people. Timorisation and capacity building have become catch phrases for the current administration, and with reason, as the administration has been almost fully staffed by internationals. However the mistaken perception that there is no Timorese capacity or that there is capacity only amongst a few, and the convenience of talking with a limited elite can not justify jumping over and undermining the institutions being created with such difficulty." Filomena Reis, REDE
Jan 24 GLW: Women face uphill struggle
"Aurora Ximenes, the coordinator of the East Timor Women's Network, which comprises 15 grassroots organisations, is angry that women are being sidelined in the transition to independence." Robyn Marshall
Jan 15 Guardian: Return of the Revolutionaries
"Last week, she [Milena Pires] was in London seeking support for pro-women measures she hopes to see put in place when the UN hands over to the new East Timorese government next year. Her aim is to help create a society in which 30% of parliamentarians and 30% of public servants are women. The carrot Britain has is money. Pressure from other donor countries, such as Japan, Portugal and Australia, to introduce women-friendly policies has worked thus far and women's groups in East Timor have already succeeded in securing a deal in which local councils are made up of 50% men and 50% women." Maggie O'Kane
Dec 22 IHT: A Family in East Timor Grieves for a Daughter
7 CapT: Village Women of East Timor have great hope
"Women were specifically targeted in many ways [after the ballot] -- they were separated from husbands and sons, harassed and often raped. ... Village women work all day long, caring for children, cooking, cleaning, washing, farming and carrying water. ... In their quest for economic empowerment, East Timorese women are fighting more than their country's current poverty -- under customary law, women cannot inherit or own property." Jen Laakso
Nov 19 AFP: Scars of vote violence
remain real for many East Timor women
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