On 10 August 2017, Plan International, Marie-Stopes and FADA worked together to organise a workshop for women, girls and young people from Aileu municipality to ensure they received all the information available regarding the draft family planning policy recently tabled by Timor-Leste's Ministry of Health.
Away from the capital, people from rural areas, especially women and girls, are often the least informed about such policies. Yet, with a rural population of more than 70 per cent, they are also the most concerned, and must have an opportunity to voice their opinions.
At the workshop, village chiefs, high school students, young women and men were gathered and listened to the details of the draft policy, before each receiving it in hard copy.
Teenage pregnancy is a big problem in our communities, and this policy will only exacerbate the problem.
The participants then divided into groups to discuss what they had just heard, and formed recommendations to the government in an official statement.
"Teenage pregnancy is a big problem in our communities, and this policy will only exacerbate the problem, instead of addressing it," said 18 year-old Odelia. "We need an action plan from the new government to tackle teenage pregnancy. This must start with listening to our recommendations and revising this draft policy."
Elfia, a 19 year-old girl from AIieu also explained how this policy could seriously harm the economic situation of young women: "When women don't have access to modern forms of contraception, they end up having children very frequently, which doesn't give them any opportunity to get skills and have a good economic situation," she said. "Women need access to all forms of contraception in order to secure a better future for their family," she added.