Spotlight Initiative launches in Timor-Leste

March 5, 2020

DILI, Timor-Leste - Her Excellency Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus, Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion, launched the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in presence of members of the Government, the Delegation of the European Union, the United Nations System, diplomatic missions, business community, academia, and civil society organizations.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, relentless and distressing human rights violations in the world. It is one of the major obstacles to the realization of rights of women and girls and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Spotlight Initiative aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.

Timor-Leste is one of the countries that benefits from the Spotlight Initiative with the support of the government, civil society and other partners in the eradication of violence against women and girls. After achieving significant progress in the last 20 years since its historic vote for independence, Timor-Leste has demonstrated its commitment to ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG) and intimate partner violence. Despite the vision for equality, violence against women remains a challenge, with estimates from 38 per cent to 59 per cent of women experiencing violence in their lifetime.

"I highly appreciate the Spotlight Initiative, which is in line with the commitments of the Government of Timor-Leste to promote and protect the dignity and rights of women," stated Her Excellency Ms Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus, officially launching the programme. "In Timor-Leste, the Government is giving prominence to prevention, protection and the provision of services, alongside broader efforts to ensure women's economic empowerment and participation in all aspects of society. The Government of Timor-Leste do stand fully committed to zero tolerance against any form, kind, and shape of violence against our women and girls.”

This official launch marks the beginning of the first phase of the Spotlight Initiative in three priority municipalities of Bobonaro, Ermera and Viqueque. The programme aims at supporting measures of the Government to eliminate all kinds of harmful practices around violence against women and girls. The three-year investment of the Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste amounts to USD15 million. It aims to strengthen country’s legal frameworks and institutions, promote positive social norms, increase access to support services for survivors of violence, improve the collection and use of data for better policy making and to strengthen partnerships with civil society organizations. The Initiative is led by the UN Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste and will be implemented jointly by UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and ILO.

“Violence against women and girls prevents the achievement of human rights and development in any society. In Timor-Leste, the United Nations is working closely with many people and institutions, from the top leadership to the grassroots, including the Government, civil society, private sector, development partners, men and boys, women and girls to make a real change," said Mr Roy Trivedy, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Timor-Leste. "For the United Nations, the Spotlight Initiative is a new approach to achieve gender equality in the spirit of oneness, partnership and the reciprocity of five UN agencies working together to achieve Global Goals by 2030.”

The Spotlight Initiative is a multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations, with a global investment of EUR 500 million or USD 550 million, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. It is one of the world's largest programmes for ending violence against women and girls. In Timor-Leste, the Initiative will especially focus on the elimination of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

“The European Union is pleased to support Timor-Leste’s efforts to end the terrible, and widespread, scourge of violence against women and girls," said Andrew Jacobs, EU Ambassador to Timor-Leste. "The Spotlight Initiative will involve everyone in these efforts, including men and boys, without whom we cannot be successful. A society free of gender-based violence is a more equal society, one in which all people enjoy the same rights and opportunities. Gender-based violence is a well-documented human rights violation, a barrier to social, political, and economic participation. It undermines the safety, dignity, and overall health status of the individuals who experience it. The Spotlight Initiative will enhance efforts and strengthen institutions to ensure women and girls will never again live in fear.”

For media inquiries, please contact:

Marino Mouzinho, Media Adviser, Office of the Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion

Marina Rini, Communication Officer, EU Delegation

Ahmed Saleem, Communications Officer, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office

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