Women and girls march as one, holding banners and talking in microphones to call for an end to gender-based violence and sexual harassment in the streets of Dili, Timor-Leste. That’s the opening scene of “100% Ready”, a short film produced by Plan International Timor-Leste to show that women and girls have what it takes to lead in their communities and country.
The film will be launched on 8 March 2017 to mark International Women’s Day, and celebrate all women and girls who are taking a bold stand for equality in their country.
In a society as patriarchal as ours, getting your voice heard and views taken into account as a woman or worse, as a girl, can be very challenging. Traditionally women and girls are excluded from meetings about issues that affect the community, and are instead expected to clean and cook for the men.
Until the latest “suko” (village) elections in Timor-Leste, only 2% of village Chiefs were women. When all decisions are taken by men, for men and with men, how can we expect the specific needs of girls and women to be addressed?
Remarkably, Timor-Leste is doing much better at national level, where women represent 38% of all parliamentarians thanks to a quota system. It is one of the highest percentages of women in parliament in South-East Asia. But these impressive rates are far from showing the big picture in the country.
At local level, women and girls are still very much struggling to even attend any council meeting. In October 2016, the first elections in seven years were held and with the government creating quotas for female candidates, this offered an opportunity for change.
We know that including women and girls in decision-making processes benefits everyone
Improved leadership skills
At Plan International we know that including women and girls in decision-making processes benefits everyone, starting with their families and communities. That’s why we have been working with women and girls of the Aileu municipality to develop their leadership skills and support them to make themselves heard in local politics. By doing so, we witnessed something unprecedented: 29 women were candidates at the latest suko elections. In 2009, they were only two.
This is an achievement in itself, which shows that women are more than willing to participate in their communities’ political life if given a chance to do so. Another beneficial outcome was for girls. Seeing women taking a stand and fighting for their right to be heard is an incredible driver for girls’ empowerment. Many of them feel more confident, see their self-esteem rise and finally consider positions of power as something they might want to pursue in the future, and that’s where it all starts.
Seeing women taking a stand and fighting for their right to be heard is an incredible driver for girls’ empowerment.
During the elections we decided to closely follow the campaign of two of those women candidates, Joanna and Selestra, to make a short film out of it, and show everyone their courage and determination while highlighting the challenges remaining on their way to gender equality.
In Timor-Leste women and girls are “100% ready” to lead, let’s make sure we work together to give them a fair chance to reach the finish line.
"100% Ready" was produced as part of Plan International Timor-Leste's Women and Girls Participation in Local Governance project supported by Plan International Sweden and funded by The Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA).