By Violet Rish, Indonesia and Timor-Leste Branch, East Asia Division, AusAID
In January 2013 the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) released a report on women’s access to justice, highlighting the role of law as essential in advancing women’s rights and equality.
The report Accessing Justice tells us that we should combine grassroots efforts to empower women with top-down reforms. The Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice (AIPJ) Realising Rights strategy hopes to do just this.
By James Batley, Deputy Director General Country Programs, AusAID
I went back to Dili last July for the first time in nearly ten years. It was great to return to a place that had given me some of the most intense and memorable experiences of my professional life, to revisit many of Dili’s landmarks, and to catch up with many old
friends. I spent much of my time reminiscing over the highs and lows of my three years in Dili which started in June 1999: the long lines of expectant voters on the day of the ballot on East Timor’s future on 30 August 1999; the violence that erupted after the announcement of the result; the rows of burnt-out and blackened shops and buildings that remained; the arrival of international troops led by Australia, and the beginnings of the UN administration; the emergence of East Timor’s political leaders…
Yet for all those vivid memories, the Dili I saw last July was not the city I left in 2002. At one level, the face of Dili has changed, with hundreds of new buildings, large and small, in all parts of the city. The traffic on the streets, too, has noticeably intensified. Dili certainly gives visitors a sense of busyness and of energy.
Australia is helping to improve women and children’s health by supporting mobile health clinics to travel to remote villages. Photo: Joao Vas / AusAID
The reason I travelled to Dili last year was to attend the annual meeting between East Timor’s Government and its development partners. It was this meeting that really brought home to me the deeper changes that have taken place in East Timor over the past ten years. During the UNTAET period, the international community essentially set the development agenda. Mechanisms were certainly put in place to consult Timorese leaders about their own priorities, and much energy was put into understanding the aspirations of the Timorese people themselves. Even so, at the major donor meetings I’m sure that many Timorese leaders felt like spectators, rather than active participants, let alone in the driver’s seat.