UN Women and UNDP Joint Effort for Women’s Leadership and Participation in the Elections 2021-2025

July 21, 2022

The UN Women-UNDP workshops were conducted in collaboration with local women-led organizations, reached out 473 people in total

Judith Maria de Sousa/Ba Futuru,

Dili, July 19, 2022- UN Women and UNDP have partnered for the Timorese elections in 2021-2025 to promote meaningful participation and representation of women in politics. As a result, 473 leaders have enhanced their knowledge of women's and men's equal rights to participate in Timor-Leste elections.

Through the UN Women and UNDP partnership, 16 workshops were conducted in collaboration with local women-led organizations in eight municipalities. They outreached 473 current and emerging leaders (250 women and 223 men) to strengthen their skills and capacity development and promote active participation in the national elections. The program was structured based on the National Strategy on “Hakbi’it Lideransa no Partisipasaun Feto iha Eleisaun 2021-2025” (Strengthen Leadership and Women’s Participation in Elections in 2021-2025) in consultation with the Secretariat of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII) and the National Commission for Elections (CNE). The initiative was financially supported by the UNDP COVID-Resilient Elections (CORE-TL) project, funded by the Government of Japan.

“We know the roles of a community leader but don’t know how to be a good leader. This training equipped me with skills and knowledge on how to work and perform as a good leader in the community”, said Nela, a community leader in Metinaro and one of the women participants in the workshops.

On the other hand, Lucia da Costa Soares, a participant who attended the workshop in Dili, commented, "women need to empower ourselves, and I need to be confident in myself. Women can participate in political life. If men can do, why can’t I do it?". After the training, Lucia is determined to run for the next election as the Chief of her community in the Aldeia 7 de Dezembro of Suco Madohi.

According to the World Bank, in Timor-Leste, 38% of the seats (8 out of 38) in the National Parliament are held by women, which is above the Asian region’s average (19%) and the global average (26%) in 2020. Moreover, in comparison to one of the most recent national elections, the voter turnout of women increased from 308,288 in the Parliamentary Election in 2018 to 322,482 in the Presidential Election in 2022, where also 4 out of the 16 candidates running for president were women, the highest number of participations in electoral cycles. Nonetheless, only 1 out of 13 presidents of the local authorities in 13 municipalities and the special administrative region is a woman. Their representation in politics thus needs to be improved. 

Through the joint efforts of UN Women and UNDP, the CORE-TL project strives to ensure inclusive and gender-equal elections while contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals principle of “Leaving No One Behind.”