BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home       Urgent Actions

NOTE: Mar 20 Dear BACK DOOR, The petition [for women's quotas] is over, the battle lost! for now ... Best wishes, Catherine Scott, Catholic Institute for International Relations
See this letter of support for this campaign:

Mar 1 ETAN/US: Letter on women and upcoming election
"Although they have made many contributions to their society through the independence movement, literacy campaigns, and other community service efforts, East Timorese women remain one of the most marginalized segments of the population. ... We hope that UNTAET will, at the behest of the East Timorese society it serves and in keeping with the United Nations’ commitment to women’s empowerment worldwide, rule in favor of a requirement for at least 30 percent women candidates in the upcoming elections in East Timor." Charles Scheiner, National Coordinator, East Timor Action Network
"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. ... 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." Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR)

CIIR URGENT ACTION

EAST TIMOR:

WOMEN'S REPRESENTATION TO EAST TIMOR'S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

THE NEED FOR QUOTAS

REDE, East Timor's Women's Network, is right now lobbying hard for a quota of at least 30% women to be made mandatory for elections to the Constituent Assembly, and for a proportional system whereby political parties are required to field 30% women candidates (with women being listed as every third candidate from the top of the list).

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.


Please write in support of REDE's demands to:

Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations, UN Plaza, 10017,  New York, USA
Fax: 1 212 963 4879

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


Catherine Scott,
Asia Policy Officer,
Catholic Institute for International Relations,
Unit 3, Canonbury Yard,
190a new North Road,
London N1 7BJ
Tel: 020 7354 0883
Fax: 020 7359 0017
Email Catherine Scott: Cathy@ciir.org
Web: http://www.ciir.org
Catholic Institute for International Relations
"Tackling the causes of poverty and injustice internationally through advocacy and skillsharing."
CIIR works with people of all faiths and none.
Email Catherine Scott: Cathy@ciir.org Homepage: http://www.ciir.org  ETimor Webpage:  http://www.ciir.org/ipd/eti.html
REDE: Feto Timor Lorosae Timorese Women's Network
  • REDE: Feto Timor Lorosae was established in March 2000 and currently encompasses more than 15 women’s organisations. These organisations are representative in themselves of a broad cross section of society as there are mass based organisations with national membership -  down to the village level, cultural, income generating/small business and rights based organisations and organisations affiliated with political parties.
  • REDE and each of the network’s members have been accompanying the political developments in our country [ETimor]. REDE advocates on a rights based approach to development, justice, social inclusiveness and gender equity and equality. REDE is also participating in and contributing to the reconstruction as well as working directly with Timorese women through amongst others, literacy and income generating and poverty alleviation projects to help them break away from the debilitating ties of illiteracy and poverty.
  • Although there have been achievements, progress is slow. Women’s lives in East Timor, as with the rest of the population continues to be arduous. For women this is more so because of the situation of women in Timorese society, cultural perceptions of women, the absence of clear laws which protect women and women’s limited participation in decision making.

  • Filomena Reis for REDE
    See: Dec 5-6 REDE: Women's Network statement to Brussels donor conference

    See especially:

    Dec 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

    And also:

    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

    Dec 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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