Besides Timor-Leste’s effort to support gender equality, violence against women remains dramatically high. New research results from the Nabilan Program (The Asia Foundation 2016) revealed the high percentage of girls and women who have experienced gender based violence. The study found that 59% of ever partnered women have experienced forms of physical or sexual violence by their spouses/boyfriends. Focussing on sexual violence, the figures show that 34% of women have become victims of rape.
In other words: Every year, one in three Timorese women gets raped and every second a Timorese woman is experiencing physical or sexual violence.
Impunity for sexualized and domestic violence constitutes rather the norm than an exception as 70% of the male perpetrators of rape did not face any punishment while only 5% have faced imprisoning. The continuous confrontation with violence in private and public spheres and the apparent high prevalence of gender-based violence increases the tolerance level for violence, suggesting it as legitimate means for solving conflicts and dealing with frustration. Institutional structures of youth work are still loosely tied with limited outreach to youth in rural areas. Measures to support non-violent conflict resolution for youth and promote gender-equality are rare and often insufficient.
The majority of rapists were younger than 19 years old at the time they committed their firs rape (59%). Reasons given for that comprising ‘boredom (60%)’, ‘fun’ or the opinion they would ‘be entitled having sex, regardless of the girls consent’.
Against this background, the Peace and Youth Promotion Project strengthens institutions focusing on youth promotion to enable youth for non-violent conflict transformation and spreading gender-equality within the youth sector. Findings regarding the age structure of rapists underline the necessity to focus on youth and youth workers to change destructive gender-stereotypes and prevent sexual violence.
In cooperation with the State Secretariat for Youth and Sports and civil society actors, the project follows a multi-level approach that supports the capacities of state- and non-state partners on the national as well as district level. The goal is to strengthen non-violent conflict transformation by promoting youth and peace-building activities of local organisations, liaising between cross-sector stakeholders in the youth sector for joint action planning, assisting youth centres in various districts and providing training for future youth leaders. Measures to promote gender-equality and to contribute to the prevention of gender-based violence are included at all levels of project activities.
Through the National Youth Promoter Course state and non-state youth workers get trained and empowered for engaging in participatory youth work. The whole training program is designed gender-sensitive with a 1,5 day module focusing on promoting gender awareness.
At least 30% of the facilitators as well as the training participants are women. Local youth structures are strengthened through the support to youth centres and the establishment of local youth networks for joint activity implementation. Traditional values and gender perceptions remain high in rural areas. The networks aim for having at least 20% female members enabling them to work with local authorities, parents and young people on abandoning gender discrimination. The implemented activities comprise awareness raising campaigns on gender-based violence/child marriage, as well as employment supporting activities for girls and boys.
Further, the project has established a funding structure for civil society organisations, The Peace Fund. The Peace Fund is steered by representatives from the State Secretariat for Youth and Sports, GIZ, the national umbrella organization for NGOs-FONGTIL, the national youth parliament-CNJTL, as well as the national women network-Rede Feto.
Through a yearly nation-wide tender, the Peace Fund is attracting many Timorese NGOs to apply for funding and to work in close cooperation with the project. The Steering Committee jointly assesses the proposals, decides on the grants and oversees its implementation. Having the national women network ‘Rede Feto’ included in the Peace Fund Steering Committee ensures the ‘gender lens’ and that gender-equality is streamlined across money allocation and implementation. Further, it fosters regular discussions about gender-sensitive youth work. In general, the Peace Fund only supports projects with convincing gendermainstreaming approaches and insists on a strict gender-quota to ensure that both girls and boys will benefit from funded activities. Additionally there is special funding reserved for NGOs and women groups with a special focus on women empowerment or gender-based violence prevention (three out of ten NGOs).
To highlight one concrete example, the proposal will introduce the weekly radio show of Radio Liberdade (TLMDC) and their convincing gender mainstreaming approach. The production of the radio show has been developed in cooperation with Civil Peace Service of AGEH and is supported by the Peace Fund and the Nabilan Violence Prevention Program (The Asia Foundation).
TekiToke – A weekly, interactive radio show for girls’ and boys’
The weekly radio Show Teki Toke (Girls’ and Boys’) addresses young male and female Timorese (age 15-24) in the capital Dili as well as in the districts of Ermera, Liquica, Manufahi and Baucau. During the one hour program a series of youth topics are discussed with the aim to promote gender-equality and critically reflect on gender-roles, (power-) relations and hierarchies in an interactive and youth friendly way.
Guided by the questions “What do young people talk about amongst themselves? Which issues matter to them most? What are their worries, their hopes, and their dreams?” Focus group discussions were conducted and ideas and answered clustered into the five categories of (1) Love & Partnership; (2) School, University & Vocational Training; (3) Work & Employment; (4) Household & Parenting; (5) Leisure Time Activities / Sport, Music & Culture. In a second step, specific topics for the radio shows were developed under these categories. To include the promotion of gender-equality and prevention of gender-based violence as the main theme of the show, the topics were then – in a third step linked back to this by mainstreaming the gender perspective into each single topic. To do so, the young journalists were trained on gender-sensitive reporting and programming. Together with the target group they produce interactive live shows with on air expert Studio guests, call-ins and pre-recorded street interviews and mini-features. In addition, regular Joint meetings with the Teki Toke team and staff of the Peace Fund and the Nabilan Violence Prevention Program take place to discuss the potential of the single topics for addressing the multiple factors contributing to gender-discrimination and violence while also portraying ways out of the various cycles of violence and inequality.
As for example, when portraying the job of a mechanic and explaining how to becoming one, the show – as a matter of course – also portrays a female mechanic, who graduated with top marks and now works at one of the best garages in Dili. When talking about fishery in Timor-Leste, the famous “mermaids” (female diving fishers) are part of the story. When discussing self-employment, the successful business person in the studio is naturally a young woman. Instead of promoting female economic participation as something to be achieved, it is portrayed as the most natural Thing in the world – while still reflecting on the still existing challenges.
Another example is the category of Love & Partnership. Being a truly classical column in most youth magazines, it is one of the top topics young people think and talk about – especially during adolescence. It offers a good entry point to talk about love as a base for relationships and how true love would actually call for non-violent communication and mutual support in families. Doing this on a regular basis and avoiding imperatives like “don’t beat your children or wife” is expected to contribute to a slow but sustainable change in the way, young Timorese see, live and cultivate their romantic and parental relationships.
Assumed Impact and Sustainability
How successful the approach of indirect but constant mainstreaming gender-promoting perspectives into each and every Teki Toke radio show is, has been assessed through socalled radio listing groups. The radio listening groups were established at all five sites Teki Toke is broadcasted in. The groups meet on a weekly basis to listen to and discuss the respective radio shows. The discussions are guided and documented by a facilitator. The final evaluation of these qualitative data gained throughout the last six month is currently being finalised. In addition to the documentation and analysis of the group discussions, quantitative data have been gained through pre- and post- tests at all sites. With the aim to assess the listening group member’s attitude towards gender-equality and different forms of gender-based violence, the tests had to be filled-in at the beginning of the first and the end of the last radio listening group session.
The analysis of the pre- and post-tests showed a couple of very promising changes in the attitudes of the radio listening group participants: A significant decrease of the acceptance of violence against women between the pre- and the post-tests has been measured, indicating the highest change for men. Their acceptance of violence in cases of disobedience dropped from 62,86 % to 35,00 %, and regarding a suspicion of an affair from 48,39 % to 14,29 %. Amongst female participants, the acceptance of violence in case of a suspected affair also dropped from 49,06 % to 15,38 % but regarding cases of disobedience it “only” dropped from 48,28 % to 38,46 %. Across all five questions in this category and across male and female participants, it can generally be said that the tolerance of violence against women has nearly been cut by half over the project time. Similar numbers have also been measured regarding the acceptance of violence against children and the role of women within the community.
First feedback from the training for the facilitators of the radio listening groups – who are experienced journalists at the cooperating local radio stations – was overwhelming positive. They repeatedly stated that they would also like to start producing similar radio programs in the future. This does not only show that the format and implementation of the radio Show itself seems to be appropriate but also gives hope about the long term impact of the Project on the Timorese media landscape. Therefore the expansion of the project to other districts is under discussion. The approach could spread nationwide to the radio stations and gendersensitive journalism could become the norm rather than the exception.
Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and lead by the executing agency Timor-Leste State Secretary for Youth and Sports (SSYS) from 01/2014 to 12/2017.