We, the women and girls from Aileu municipality, have been made aware of and are very concerned about the implications of the draft family planning policy proposed by the Ministry of Health of Timor-Leste last month.
All women and girls, regardless of their age or civil status, must have access to family planning in Timor-Leste.
This draft policy is discriminatory against young and unmarried people, as it denies them access to contraception. The draft policy is also denying women and girls their right to use the contraception method of their choice, by promoting the Billings Method as the leading form of contraception.
All women and girls, regardless of their age or civil status, must have access to family planning in Timor-Leste, including to the contraception method of their choice. Denying or limiting women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights has devastating consequences for their lives, and repercussions for their families and communities.
The article 16 of the Constitution of Timor-Leste guaranties equality of opportunities and treatment, and forbids any form of discrimination, including based on age or marital status.
The article 57 of the Constitution also states that everyone has the right to health and medical care.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, which Timor-Leste has ratified, both recognize the right of all individuals, girls and women, boys and men, to access sexual and reproductive health information and services.
The draft Family Planning Policy that the Ministry of Health recently presented will violate our constitution, our national laws and policies, and international agreements that Timor-Leste has already agreed to follow.
We, the women and girls of Aileu municipality, therefore recommend to the government:
- To conduct further and broader consultations on this matter with all stakeholders in order to understand the needs of the population, especially women and girls in rural areas.
To use the results of those consultation to deeply revise the policy currently proposed, so that it includes all individuals, including adolescents, young people, and unmarried people, and promotes access to all modern ways of contraception.
- To work in close collaboration with civil society and women's organisations like FADA, who know the reality of women and girls in rural areas and understand their needs, when drafting the revised policy.
To change the title of the policy to “Integrated Reproductive Health Policy”, so it reflects the inclusion of young and unmarried people, not only families.