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Abstract

Women in Timor-Leste face a variety of obstacles to full political, social, and financial inclusion. The tension between government initiatives to protect women and the reality of lived experiences is apparent in the high gender-based violence rate. Though there is strong scholarship in the quantitative-based reporting and analysis of gender and women's rights in post-conflict Timor-Leste, there is a lack of space for Timorese women's voices to directly narrate how they see these issues affecting their lives. This qualitative study expands on previous findings and attempts to bring Timorese women's voices to the center of the current conversation around gender in Timor-Leste. Findings indicate that rigid post-conflict gender roles and a strong patriarchal tradition are obstacles to gender equity, despite the apparent numbers of women in Timor-Leste pushing forward and fighting for women's rights. Themes of competition between women, gender-based violence, access to reproductive health and rights, concerns about financial stability and access to education, and women's political representation emerged during the interview process. These trends indicate the opportunity for Timorese-centered reflections and further research on manifestations of gender inequality and power in this context.

Note on the Author

Alexandra T. Da Dalt is an educator and writer living in Toronto. She received her MA in International Educational Development with a focus on Peace & Human Rights Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Alexandra conducted research on women’s perceptions of gender and power in Timor-Leste as a Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund Fellow and AC4 Fellow and won the Morton Deutsch Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper on Social Justice for her research. She is currently a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. She can be reached at alexandra.dadalt@gmail.com.

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