Seventeen-year-old Feb (pictured above) is blazing a trail in her small community in Timor-Leste. She is a passionate and confident ChildFund Pass It Back coach who wants to change the future for girls and women in her country.
“In Timor-Leste, there is no gender equality,” she says. “We still use this ancient system, where opportunities are given to boys or men. There are less opportunities in terms of education and jobs for girls and women. Women have no opportunity to lead; they just know how to cook.”
But Feb is stirring the pot. As a ChildFund Pass It Back coach she is a part of a new generation of girls and young women in Timor-Leste who are learning about their rights and taking action.
“What I would like to change in Timor-Leste is this ancient system; we have to give opportunities for girls and women so they can develop themselves and they can become leaders,” Feb says.
Recently, she applied to become a member of the Youth Parliament. Her motive?
“I want to
raise the issue of gender equality,” Feb says. “I want equal opportunities for
girls and boys in Timor-Leste.”
Feb grew up in a disadvantaged community, where her parents worked on the family farm and sold rice and vegetables to raise their five children.
Where many children in similar circumstances dropped out of school to help their parents and contribute to the household income, Feb was determined to finish her education. A few years ago she left home and moved in with an aunt so she could be closer to a good secondary school.
“When I finish secondary school, I want to go to university,” Feb, who is now in Grade 9, says. “I want to study English and Information Technology.”