Monday, May 29, 2017
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Women’s activists are concerned that Timor-Leste’s patriarchal system is a barrier to the promotion of gender equality as society continues to consider it a part of the culture.

Presidential adviser Idelta Maria Rodrigues said Timor-Leste’s constitution guarantees women’s participation in political, economic and social life.

Presidential adviser Idelta Maria Rodrigues said Timor-Leste’s constitution guarantees women’s participation in political, economic and social life.

Although Timor has ratified seven international conventions as a guideline for the promotion of equal rights, she said there had been problems in the implementation process due to the dominant patriarchal culture.

“How can we minimize negative practices so we can better promote [equal rights] and eliminate gender inequality in this society?” she said at the Joao Paulo room in Comoro, Dili.

Therefore, she said it was important to change people’s attitudes so that equal value was given to both women and men according to the constitution.

The patriarchal system has become part of Timorese tradition, passed down through the generations in the context of strengthening the relationship between two families.

However, she said the original context was now fading and that society often misinterpreted the tradition in daily life.

Meanwhile, President of the Dili Municipality Authority Gaspar Soares recognized that women’s participation in the development process was limited in many countries, not only Timor.

He said it takes time to change people’s mentality, but there had been progress, with some sections of society now actively encouraging women’s participation in the development process.

“There are opportunities, but to participate in this process, women must prepare themselves to compete with men,” he said.

He said everyone must work hard to eliminate inequality in society and that change starts with each family.

Meanwhile, activist Bella Galhos said that although the patriarchal system continued to impede women, it was not actually a part of Timorese culture and it was possible to eliminate this sort of discrimination if all of society contributed.

“I love Timor, but I disagree with some parts of the culture because it excludes me as a woman from making progress,” she said.

“[The idea that] only woman can cook is not part of the culture, [but] the society wants to practice this in order to exclude women from making progress,” she said.

She said education was important in changing patriarchal attitudes and that leaders should also set a good example about the equal treatment of men and women in society.

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