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Timor-Leste’s Gender Gap Narrowing in Education, Employment—New Report

News from Country Offices | 7 November 2014

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE – Timor-Leste’s gender gap has narrowed in education, employment and political influence, but significant challenges remain in achieving gender equality on a range of other measures, according to new report released today.

The New Country Gender Assessment for Timor-Leste shows that Timor-Leste has the highest proportion of women parliamentarians in Asia and the Pacific, with women holding 38% of parliamentary seats. However, more efforts are needed to reduce malnutrition among women, improve reproductive health care, boost women’s literacy and participation in higher education, and increase the number of women in the labor force, especially in the formal sector.

“The government’s active involvement in the assessment process has been very encouraging,” said Sunhwa Lee, Principal Social Development Specialist at Asian Development Bank (ADB). “The challenge will be to keep the momentum going by widely disseminating the findings so they are used for developing targeted interventions and monitoring progress toward gender equality goals.”

The key findings of Timor-Leste’s second Country Gender Assessment were launched at an event to mark National Women’s Day, attended by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao. Also attending were representatives of ADB, the Government of Timor-Leste, development partners and civil society groups. The assessment was prepared jointly by ADB, the Government of Timor-Leste’s Secretary of State for the Promotion Equality, and UN Women, in close consultation with key stakeholder groups in Timor-Leste.

“Addressing gender concerns remains a top priority for the Government of Timor-Leste,” said Idelta Maria Rodrigues, Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality. “This country gender assessment aims to help us better focus our development policies and priorities in improving the quality of women’s lives in Timor-Leste by ensuring women have equal access and opportunities across all sectors,”

The assessment aims to inform policymakers, civil society, and development partners about gender-related barriers to inclusive development, and recommends ways to incorporate gender issues into government policies and programs. Information in the assessment will also be used to raise awareness and develop capacity for gender mainstreaming across government.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.