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Girls lead call for an end to violence

Girls’ rights activist Odelia from Timor-Leste is taking the lead and calling for an end to violence against women, a key issue in her country.

Odelia, 17, speaking about girls' rights at a press conference in Timor-Leste

Seventeen-year-old Odelia from Timor-Leste is passionate about girls’ leadership and equality.

Widespread abuse

Read the report Unlock the power of girls now When asked what she would do if she was the President of her country, she says, “I’d call all the women of Timor-Leste together and show that they can do anything. But my first priority would be to focus on stopping violence against women, which is a big problem in my country.”

In Timor-Leste, 59% of women aged 15-49 who are in relationships with men have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by their partner and 34% of women have been raped in their lifetime.

Girls and women take a stand

Keen to push for change, Odelia joined 250 girls and women at Timor-Leste’s first ever Girls’ Conference in Aileu last year. She came to the conference, organised by Plan International and partners, to show what women and girls are capable of.

The result of the conference was the drafting of the girls’ declaration which sets out 6 priorities to achieve gender equality in Timor-Leste including an end to violence against girls and women. Odelia was one of 10 girls who presented an ambitious 3-year implementation plan of the declaration to national politicians.

Becoming a leader

I’d call all the women of Timor-Leste together and show that they can do anything.

Odelia first became involved with Plan International 3 years ago through our child rights clubs in Aileu. At the club she learned about her rights and how to protect herself from abuse. As a result, she also joined the local Women and Girls Forum, where she had training in leadership and public speaking and learned how to advocate.

Since that time she’s grown in confidence and her ambition is to become a diplomat and she dreams of becoming Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to Australia.

At the Girls’ Conference, Odelia heard from some inspiring women who are taking part in local decision making, including Filomena Soares who is the first women to become a Village Chief in the Municipality of Aileu.

Unlock the power of girls now

New research shows that girls and women face violence across the world despite laws and policies designed to protect them. Real change is only possible by working with girls to build a social movement that addresses the root causes of abuse.

Read the report Unlock the power of girls now