TODAY ‘A New Chapter for East Timorese Women’: Seeking independence and gender equality in international networks and institutions State, Society & Governance in Melanesia

Hannah Loney
(University of Melbourne)
Sarah Smith
(Swinburne University)

Monday 25 July, 2016
Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130),
corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
3:00 – 4:30pm

In this seminar we examine East Timorese women’s engagement with international networks, institutions and organisations from the period of Indonesian occupation (1975-99), through to the post-occupation/independence era (2000-present). Throughout the Indonesian occupation, East Timorese women, both within the territory and internationally, connected with transnational women’s networks and solidarity organisations. They used these connections, the associated discourses and linguistic strategies, to promote the cause of independence for East Timor, as well as to campaign for the rights of East Timorese women in the face of violent oppression. The World Conferences on Women that were held as part of the UN Decade for Women (1976-85) were key sites for some East Timorese women to network and advocate for East Timor’s right to self-determination. From 1999, the commencement of UN peace operations in the country post-occupation reshaped the socio-political landscape in which East Timorese women advocated for their rights.

During this period, East Timorese women lobbied UN leadership in Timor-Leste both to ensure women’s inclusion in the post-occupation development of Timor-Leste, and to maintain the UN’s commitment to gender equality in peacebuilding. This connection to international institutions was particularly important during the UN’s transitional administration, in which the UN was seen as a “bridge” for East Timorese women to lobby their government. Ultimately, we stress the importance of transnational feminist activism, global women’s movements, and international organisations as providing sites for networking, avenues for advocacy, and sources of solidarity for East Timorese women in their struggle for national self-determination and equality.

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