DILI, Timor-Leste - The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste has reprogrammed its budget to dedicate US$100,000 towards addressing the increased risk of violence against women and girls during the current flood emergency and response. 

The Government of Timor-Leste, the European Union, and the United Nations, together with partners including civil society organizations, remain committed to protecting and supporting women and girls during the humanitarian crisis caused by recent non-stop rains and landslides. According to official estimates, more than 31,000 households have been affected across the country, with 3925 people currently displaced and 41 reported dead.

Evidence shows that violence is often exacerbated in emergencies and natural disasters due to the disruption of services, destruction of infrastructure, displacement and limited access to referral services.

“In any natural disaster, women, girls and other vulnerable components of society are the most affected due to pre-existing inequalities." - Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion, Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus

In response to the humanitarian disaster in Timor-Leste and increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV), the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative has diverted US$100,000 to respond to the immediate needs of women, girls and vulnerable groups. Gender-based violence is widely recognised as one of the most prevalent concerns in Timor-Leste, with almost 2 out of every 3 women (aged 15-49) reporting having experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

“The dramatic flash flooding has caused extensive damage throughout the country and claimed the lives of many," said the European Union Ambassador Andrew Jacobs. "Consequences have a far-reaching impact on everyone, on their health, their socio-economic wellbeing, and on their rights. Through the Spotlight Initiative, our partners are shifting programming to scale up support to civil society organizations on the front line of response, ensuring that services not only stay open but are made more accessible to groups often left behind. The European Union stands by the people of Timor-Leste at this time of suffering and remains committed to protecting and supporting women in Timor-Leste."

The redirected funding will be used to disseminate information on the prevention of GBV and referral systems, provide psychosocial support, basic food and non-food items to women, girls, and vulnerable survivors of GBV. The reprogramming will also provide technical guidance to the rapid gender assessment of the flooding, support monitoring and evaluation activities, and strengthen the GBV emergency response in the revised National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NAP GBV).

“During humanitarian crises, the burden on women and girls generally increases. Their workloads, childcare and other caring and support roles within the families are often multiplied," said Roy Trivedy, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste. "If they are running or working in small businesses, their livelihoods are generally affected. Levels of domestic violence often increase. And they are also affected if legal systems, health and other services stop functioning normally. Governments and key institutions in all societies have a responsibility to help ensure that people are safe, well supported and that the fundamental rights of all, especially women, girls and all vulnerable groups are effectively protected.”


The Spotlight Initiative, launched in September 2017, is a multi-year global partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women's empowerment as a precondition and driver for achieving sustainable development goals.

In the Pacific, the violence against women and girls is particularly worrying. In some countries in the region, 76 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Most affected are marginalised women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

In Timor-Leste, the Spotlight Initiative was launched on 5 March 2020. It is being implemented through five UN agencies (UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, and ILO), in support of the Government, and in close collaboration with the civil society, the World Health Organization, International Organization for Migration, and the UN Human Rights Advisor’s Unit.

The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste is that women and girls enjoy their right to a life free of violence, within an inclusive and gender equitable Timor-Leste. The programme is aligned to the Timor-Leste 'National Action Plan on Gender based Violence (2017-2021)"'and National SDG Roadmap. It will contribute to the elimination of domestic violence and intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) by responding to the needs of women and girls and addressing the underlying causes of violence against women and girls, using a multi-sectoral and intersectional approach across the ecological model.

This will involve strengthening and widening partnerships and solidarity across civil society, Government, media, private sector and development partners. The Initiative will empower individuals, equip institutions at national, sub-national and community levels with the policies, systems and mechanisms to prevent and respond to VAWG, and encourage the public to challenge harmful gender norms. Using innovative approaches, the Initiative will build a social movement of diverse advocates and agents of change for gender equality and social inclusion.

The Spotlight initiative deploys targeted, large-scale investments to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. For more information about the Spotlight Initiative, visit www.spotlightinitiative.org

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