Human rights and gender equality have never been more important to the women and girls in our partner communities. The pandemic has multiplied the challenges they face in health, education and livelihoods. We know more broadly that Covid-19 has exacerbated inequalities and escalated domestic and family violence in many communities around the world, including here in Australia.
The theme of this year’s UN Human Rights Day is ‘rights are the beginning of peace within societies, and a way to create a fairer society for future generations’. On 10 December, the majority of us will take a moment to stop and reflect on ways we can all work to create a fairer society. But reflection is not enough. This theme resonates deeply across our partnerships, particularly in Bougainville and with our newest partner in Timor-Leste. Their activities vary, but they both have the same goal – to build women’s leadership, to challenge discrimination and unfair attitudes, and to ensure women and girls can be safe in their homes and their communities. Please consider making a donation today to support the vital work our local partners are leading to confront sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Help launch our new partnership in Timor-Leste – young people taking action to make public spaces and transport safe
We’ve just signed off on a new partnership in Timor-Leste, with Juventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasional (JDN). Established in 2014, JDN is youth-led and community-based. They engage young people in discussion and action around the issues affecting their lives – and one of their key priorities for 2022 is standing up to sexual harassment and discrimination against women and girls at home and in public spaces.
This year, JDN collected 80 case studies from young women – and one theme that kept on coming up was fear of violence and harassment in public spaces and on public transport. Analia, the Coordinator of JDN’s sexual harassment project says that JDN wants to encourage young women to understand their rights and challenge harassment. She writes “Here in Timor-Leste, people regard sexual harassment as a normal behaviour but in fact it is wrong, and it is disrespectful behaviour towards women and it happens everywhere. As a youth organisation, we want to help and encourage young women to recognise that they can change these bad actions that affect women’s rights and lives as well.”
And JDN have a solid plan to do this – to confront sexual harassment and make public spaces and transport safer and more inclusive for women and girls. With your support, in the coming year we want to fund JDN to run 10 workshops to reach 300 young people in total. They will provide ongoing support to bring these young people together to take action to stop harassment in their own lives and communities. JDN wants to establish five Young Women’s Advocacy Groups that will push for the implementation of a Code of Conduct and training for public transport drivers. They also plan to recruit young men as advocates for change, because the work to create safe public spaces and stop sexual harassment cannot be left to women alone.
JDN has planned and will lead this initiative. By supporting them, we have the opportunity to make a difference in Dili and surrounding communities.
Support women and children facing family violence in Bougainville
The UN estimates that three out of four women in Bougainville have experienced physical violence at the hands of their partner – and the Haku region is a hot spot with the highest number of violence-related cases in the District Court. Our partners at the Hako Women’s Collective are working to change that statistic.
Last Human Rights Day, our community of supporters in Australia stepped up to back the important work of Hako Women’s Collective in Bougainville, thank you. Over the past 12 months, the women of Hako have put your donation to work. They opened their expanded stand-alone safe house (Meri Seif Haus) and, with your support, have kept it staffed day and night as a refuge for local women escaping violence. Their resource centre and library continues to be a community hub and they have delivered Covid-19 safe services to their communities.
The expanded safe house has operated without a break since it was first opened in November 2020, but recently it’s being stretched to capacity. A serious community conflict led to an influx of 173 internally displaced people – largely women and children from a neighbouring area – needing support with legal fees and basic supplies, as well as education support from Hako’s library and literacy program for their children.
This rapid influx has highlighted urgent infrastructure needs to ensure the safe house and resource centre space is safe and functional, including making repairs to the bush kitchen and catering areas and ensuring a secure perimeter fence.
We know that the work Hako is doing is transformational and we are committed to help them see this through – both with ongoing staffing for the Safe House and library, and with urgent infrastructure needs.
On Human Rights Day your donation will go a long way to help these and our other community partners continue to empower women and girls, and protect their rights to education, health and safety. Please consider making a donation today.
indigo foundation believes that transformative change happens when communities are given the respect and trust to lead their own priorities and programs. We know community development is not about a quick fix or simply funding activities. By providing secure, long-term funding, our community partners develop the skills, solutions and strength to see their communities through challenges, such as those being faced by the Hako women’s collective right now.
On behalf of all of us here at indigo foundation, thank you