Solidarity in Festivity: Linking and Learning for an Inclusive Timor-Leste

Gender Equality Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI)

Solidarity in Festivity: Linking and Learning for an Inclusive Timor-Leste

Humanis Foundation

On November 17 2023, more than 200 people gathered in a Linking and Learning Festival to celebrate the learning process, upskilling, and knowledge exchange between the Civil Society and Governance in Timor-Leste (CSG-TL) coalition members. With the theme “Strengthening our society through inclusive collaboration towards a prosperous and strong nation”, the festival was brimming with joy and pride, as phase 6 of our program has resulted in significant changes, collaborations, and real actions. For instance, last September Humanis and the coalition met with the President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta to express our collective commitment to advancing inclusive development in Timor-Leste where the President himself expressed his commitment to support the recommendations from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)—our coalition.   


Attended by the representative of Timor-Leste Presidential Staff, President of Parliament of Timor-Leste Mana Sra. Maria Fernanda Lay, and opened by The Ambassador of Norway to Indonesia and Timor-Leste—Ambassador Rut Krüger Giverin, the festival becomes an important mark and milestone for Timor-Leste’s civil societies.   
The Civil Society and Governance Project (or CSG-TL) is the most recent iteration of a long-running support program for several CSOs advocating for good governance in Timor-Leste. Funded by The Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, Humanis carries out and implements the project—providing core funding to four core CSOs in Dili and facilitating various training programs and assistance to other partner organizations. Our four core partners throughout the project are FOKUPERS, La’o Hamutuk, ACbit, and JSMP—each and every one of them is a well-established NGO working for human rights, justice, gender, and economic empowerment.

We applaud these organizations for their very important work on justice, human rights, gender, and economic empowerment… The interlinkages and strong cooperation that has sprung from this project illustrates the impact that capacity building project can have.”—Rut Krüger Giverin, Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste, in her welcoming remark for the Linking and Learning Festival.   

FOKUPERS, the first women’s organization in Timor-Leste, focuses on addressing gender-based violence and human rights violations against women and children—especially during and after the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste. Over the course of the project, FOKUPERS provided training for survivors and marginalized groups, provided space for mothers and their children during the training, and conducted research on domestic violence.  


La’o Hamutuk meaning ‘Walking Together’ in English is a research-focused organization that dedicates itself to policy analysis, public education, and advocacy. Their research and analysis have tremendously become a contributing factor in advocating for a more inclusive Timor-Leste. They collaborate closely with grassroots and smaller organizations to highlight local issues and raise awareness about them on a broader, national platform.    

ACbit, another women-centred organization in Timor-Leste, works with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who face stigma and marginalization in society. They conduct database management, story collection and dissemination, memorialization, and lobby for reparation programs for survivors. As the CSG-TL program progresses, they strengthen their links with focal points in rural areas outside of Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. The training, interventions for economic empowerment for women entrepreneurs, and assisting survivors to organize themselves in one community have been successfully achieved during Phase 6 of the program.  

While Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), our last core partner organization, commits to advancing legality, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law in Timor-Leste. Given their experience in the formal justice sector in Timor-Leste, JSMP produced research and paper on children’s access to the formal justice sector during Phase 6 of the program. As their research found that there are extensive cases of incest and domestic violence, they also submitted an amendment to the Penal Code and the Law against Domestic Violence. Additionally, they provide legal assistance for victims and survivors of gender-based violence and monitor the trials of gender-based violence in local courts among other things.   

Amid the festivity, we recount the solidarity that flourishes as the coalition strives together for a more inclusive Timor-Leste. The end of phase 6 of this project is only the beginning of active and meaningful participation of Timor-Leste’s CSOs in shaping the future development of the country.    

I am confident that we will achieve many more outcomes and impacts together after 2023. This is not the end of the project; these are new pages that document the history of long-term collaboration to ensure the capacity of CSOs in Timor-Leste is strengthened and Timorese rights are more effectively fulfilled.” — Ni Loh Gusti Madewanti, Project Manager GEDI – Yayasan Humanis dan Inovasi Sosial (Humanis Foundation).