Timor-Leste: Promoting the voices of women for peace

This past Friday, Interpeace’s local partner in Timor-Leste, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), held a National Validation Workshop with the goal of helping women to participate in the democracy process within the country. Coinciding with the International Day of Peace, the event marked the third phase in an innovative research project, which looks specifically at how to engage women in democratic processes at the local level as active citizens.

The first phase of the project brought together women across 12 districts of the country to participate in interactive dialogues, which was then followed by the opportunity for men and women to meet at the regional level over a series of three one-day conferences. The Validation Workshop was the final phase and provided an opportunity for the involved men and women to discuss their recommendations for the consolidation of democracy directly with policy-makers and civil society actors at the national level.

Incorporation of Peace Day

In concordance with International Peace Day on 21 September, CEPAD chose the theme of “Promoting the Voices of Women for Peace” for the workshop. All participants wore a white and blue ribbon, signifying a commitment to peacebuilding. Each attendee was also invited to write a message of what peace means to them to be displayed on a large cloth dove inside the venue, with the messages representing the dove’s feathers. This allowed participants to think about peace within a local context but also consider its global implications.

Panel workshops lead to self-empowerment

The first panel of the workshop included João Boavida, Executive Director of CEPAD, as well as numerous other speakers involved in women’s issues and government. This panel was then followed by a second group consisting of Joana Maria Viegas, a CEPAD researcher, along with three female representatives from the different regions of Timor-Leste. Sra. Me. Guilhermina Marçal, Provincial Superior of the Canossian Sisters and first speaker at the workshop, inspired participants when she stated: “Women hold the key. The key for peace, the key to democray. Women’s laughter grows peace in the world.”

Idea behind the research

After a long struggle for independence, Interpeace local partner CEPAD has supported the consolidation of democracy within federal and local government structures. Recently, CEPAD has been looking into the role women can play in the consolidation of democracy at the community level, moving the focus away from formal structures to active citizenship. Through CEPAD’s series of workshops, women are encouraged to think deeply about how they can actively participate in democracy and the workshops allow participants to understand the meaning of democracy within everyday life.

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