Thank you very much! Your Excellency senator Kate Landy, distinguish guess ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon and thank you again for having me here today to share with you the joy of this very important occasion of the 100 years anniversary of international women’s day.
Before, I go on...
Allow me to acknowledge that we are gathering in the land that traditional own by the aborigine of this country. Also allow me to acknowledge that my present here today have been made possible by the sacrificed of my country men and women and also many sympathizers of our cause whom have gave their lives to the liberation of people of my country, including myself.
Let me now comeback to the themes of our gathering today, the day of our celebration.
It is indeed a great pleasure to be here, celebrating a significant moments and achievements of every woman of the world. The day we are celebrating today is the day that marked the first time in our history where our fellow women before us took a step forward with all the courage to speak to the world but more importantly to our male partners, our husband, our sons and our brothers, that we are equal partner in our society and that our contribution to the society are equally important and that it should be respected, acknowledged and that opportunities should be equal for each of us.
Today is indeed the day we all once again re-declare our commitment and our standing for equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all. And we call for respect and recognition of our contribution to our society.
Friends, while we are celebrating our achievements through the first steps taken by our fellow women before us, let us also have this celebration remained us that the fight is far from over and that there is still a lot to be done to ensure that every women of our world enjoy dignified lives and that every girls of our world enjoy education that every human being deserved for.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me re-assure you how proud and grateful I am to be here today to marked the 100 years of women international day and to express my greatest gratitude to women before us and today whom has lead the way to see and dig the potential within us to contribute to our community in the political vicinity.
Ladies and gentlemen our fellow before us have facilitated us the avenue to take part and have emphasised to us that we can contribute to our society where we each belongs in all part of lives, including politics. Today, I am very proud to see and experience that the tiny country of mine, Timor Leste have become one of the leading country in the world on women participation in politics.
As off 2010 my country have been ranked 25th out of 189 countries in the world with high number of women in parliaments, with 29.2% and have women assuming numerous important and indispensable position such as Depute speaker of parliament, Minister of Finance, Minister of Social reinsertion, vice ministers, secretary of states, head and founder of parties and important position such as prosecutor general.
I am extremely proud of my country, in particular, to have the legal framework of my country ensuring equal opportunity for women and men of our society. This is particularly evident in the section sixteen of my country’s constitution which adopted and upholds universality and equality among women and men and among people with different colour and race. And the section 17 specified equal access and participation of both women and men in politics.
I am proud that my country has shown it seriousness in ensuring equal participation not only at domestic level but also internationally and this has been shown through our ratification of the CEDAW and our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, Pacific Platforms of Actions and numerous others.
Ladies and gentlemen, while I am well proud of the stage of my country in regard to women participation in politics, I would like to emphasise that the women and girl of my country is facing greater difficulties at many front, personal level, socially and economically.
I am confident that you would agree with me that ensuring women participation in politics and facilitating women to earn and live in dignified lives is not limited to rule and regulations and commitment to those entire international platforms. It is indeed an important element but required more.
At personal level women of my country often face difficulties both internally and from the ambient around. Lack of confidence on women themselves to participate in politics is the greater challenges that need to be overcome; this is due to lack of education, assistance and encouragements to allow women to participate effectively in politics. Very often, within political parties that exist in my country women earn less supports to take the leading role compare to the male counterpart.
Socially, cultural barriers and attitude present different level of challenges to women and almost trying to prevent women from taking part in politics. Gender based discrimination do exist in family and society in general. For example, when family did not have sufficient budget for children’s education they often decided to have the boy as preference to continue higher education than girls. Social expectation that women and girls should assume responsibility of taking care of family and let the male do the job outside, is an additional pressure to women of my country.
Economically lack of access to resources for women for education and to contest in elections is still the major challenges for women today and for generation to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, I belief all these challenges are solvable for I belief in the power of education. Of all the women in politics today in my country, are those who have manage to escape the cultural barriers as a result of war and made their ways into education in foreign land and have achieved significantly through the position they assumed today.
I am confidence you will all agree that it is education that empower us and allow as positioning ourselves in our society and allowing us demand for better recognition and respect and it is education that promised us the avenue in politics.
Ladies and gentlemen education for women and girls in my country is one of the worst in the world. By 2007 52% of my country’s populations are remain illiterate and most importantly female literacy is far less than male in my country. We are in the average of 58% literacy by the millennium development goal standard in 2009. While conflicts have been the major to be blame for this issue, economic issue has not been less significant. Many poor parents could not afford the fees, the cost of text books, uniforms and other cost associated to studying or schooling for children and most often if they have to make decision for whom to be prioritise the chose the boy and not the girl.
For this very reason, in 2008 with the help of some friends in Canberra, I have established a scholarship scheme for left out girls at the tertiary education level in the country. I am very proud to share with you today that one of the beneficiary of my scheme a girl with the name “Ela” have manage to graduate in November last year with a bachelor in tourist development.
Friends and compatriot in the cause of women emancipation in politics in marking the 100 years of international women day, I today come to you to and plead to assist me in providing support and assistance for girls in my country to facilitate their dreams of higher education and to invest and prepare them to take up roles in politics in the coming days. Please, support us for I know you can. Supporting a girl for a university degree in my country cost an approximate of $3000. This amount will allow a girl to enter university and gain certificate at the end of fourth year.
Ladies and gentlemen 30 years ago my actual president Jose Ramos Horta comes before you asked you to support the cause of liberation of my country and I am grateful today that with your support we have gained what we dreamed for.
Today, I have come before you as female member of my society in Timor Leste to plead for your assistance to assist the higher education of girls in my country to prepare them to take up stronger role and function in the society because it’s economically and socially imperatives. I belief “Better educated women and girls are in a stronger position to make healthy society and better educated people are in the best position to make choices about human development, for themselves as well as for their country and that they are more capable in keeping peace and stability in our society. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals -- peace, security, sustainable development -- stand in jeopardy
All and all, once again happy 100 years celebration of international women’s day and let us let us pledge our renewed determination for a future of equal rights, equal opportunities and respect and recognition to the role we play in our society.
Thank you very much, Ladies and Gentlemen.