Olga lives in a village in the Municipality of Aileu. In her community young people are neither encouraged, nor have the confidence to participate in local decision making.
Last year, to help change this and ensure the voices of young people are heard, Plan International Timor-Leste started a new project targeting youth at secondary schools and university.
The project, supported by the European Union and Australian Government’s Youth Empowerment Fund, provided training for young people from 6 schools and 2 universities covering social analysis, leadership, debating and public speaking skills.
The training culminated in local debating and public speaking competitions with the winners competing in a national competition in the capital, Dili.
Debating competitions are an opportunity for students to analyse gender inequalities in their communities and identify methods for overcoming them
Empowering youth to drive change
Debating competitions are an opportunity for students to analyse gender inequalities in their communities and identify methods for overcoming them. Olga, who wants to be a doctor, used the speaking opportunity to highlight the problem of domestic violence in her community.
Asked why she chose to speak out on this issue Olga said:
“I’ve witnessed in Timor-Leste, that women become the victims. These images have haunted me and someone needs to fight against this. I’ve seen so many practices in our village that do not give opportunities for women and girls, and having Plan International promote gender equality is opening a new perspective for everyone in Aileu.”
Terence McCaughan, Plan International Timor-Leste’s Country Director attended the competition and said: “The only word I can use is ‘inspiring’, and the intelligence and analysis skills of the students, particularly girls was remarkable. This event gave everyone great hope for the future of Timor-Leste with girls like this coming through the school system.”
For Olga, the skills she has gained from the debating and public speaking skills not only help her in her future career but have also made her even more aware of the issues that women in her community face.
For more information about hte work of Plan International in Timor Leste, please visit www.plan-international.org/timorleste.
For more information about the work of the European Commission's Direcorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, please visit their website.