Women’s Resource Centre, Timor-Leste

The Alola Foundation was established in 2001 by the then First Lady, Kirsty Sword-Gusmao, to raise awareness and campaign against the sexual and gender-based violence inflicted on women and girls in Timor-Leste.

MAMA has partnered with Alola previously to fund a highly successful Mobile Library program, which visits remote or marginalised communities in Timor-Leste to deliver educational programs to pre-primary and primary aged children.

While supporting education for children is one aspect, another important focus is the reduction of gender based violence and promoting women’s rights.

Overall, more than half of the women in Timor-Leste are illiterate, and women’s participation in the workforce is also significantly lower than that for men. Close to 40% of Timorese women have experienced some form of physical violence.

MAMA’s response

In partnership with the Alola Foundation, MAMA funded a new Women’s Resource Centre to provide a place of safety, security, comfort and support. The centre will accommodate a number of support services and will improve women’s access to information on health, education, economic empowerment and their rights to actively participate in the community.

The specific objectives of the MAMA Women’s Centre are:

  • To provide a safe and comfortable learning centre for women, with access to resources and information on gender issues and economic empowerment.
  • Assist women, girls, students and teachers to access library materials and computers.
  • Provide basic capacity development for women and girls to support and enhance their educational and employment opportunities.
  • To provide a first point of contact for victims of gender based violence and their family to get appropriate practical assistance and legal support.

The MAMA Team and Alola Foundation staff at the Alola Headquarters. (Rear left to right: Phil Singer, John Fraser, Mark Fraser (CEO), Paul Singer (General Manager); Front left to right: Kirsty Sword Gusmao (Chair), Alzira Reis (CEO), Ema de Sousa (Education and Literacy Program Manager))