Welcome Back!

You have Gifts for Good in your basket.

Welcome Back!

Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

Celebrating young women changemakers this International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and stand together in advocating for a more equal and inclusive world.  

While lots of progress has been made towards achieving gender equality, women and girls still face significant barriers to achieving equal access to education, jobs, healthcare and political participation. This year’s UN theme, ‘Count Her in: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’, speaks to how by empowering women and girls to claim their rights, learn and lead, entire communities can benefit.

To mark International Women’s Day, ChildFund Australia is celebrating the young women changemakers who are learning and leading in Timor-Leste.

What does gender equality mean to you?

Women’s rights. Women’s empowerment. Equal rights. These are just a few of phrases you might hear if you asked someone what gender equality means to them. For young women participating in ChildFund’s Youth Changemakers program in Timor-Leste, the answer to this question was simple. They want to see equal rights for women and men.

“Gender equality means men and women have the same rights to access everything,” said Tatiana, a 17-year-old student, who joined ChildFund’s Youth Changemakers program in 2024.

“Gender equality means women and men have the same rights and responsibilities to do anything and everything, even sharing responsibilities and doing chores at home,” said Elizita, a youth leader and Youth Changemaker alumni.

The Youth Changemakers shifting the dial on women’s rights

Timor-Leste has one of the youngest populations in the Asia Pacific, with the majority of the population under the age of 35. Nonetheless there are few opportunities for young people to voice their opinions and ideas, and limited opportunities to gain access to formal employment. For young women and girls, harmful and restrictive gender norms alongside traditional patriarchal structures further impact their access to education, healthcare and livelihoods.

“Most of the time, women get discriminated by men, such women do not have rights to go to school, especially after high school. Sometimes men make women and girls do all the chores at home such as cooking, looking after the children therefore women do not have time to go to school,” said Tatiana, a student from Timor-Leste.

Tatiana, a student from Timor-Leste.

The Youth Changemakers program, run by ChildFund in Timor-Leste and local partner, Ba Futuru, brings together young people to learn leadership, economic empowerment and other vital life skills that they need to become positive agents of change in their community. In the trainings, facilitators create a safe space for youth to learn about and discuss gender equality and women’s empowerment touching on issues like violence against women and children, consent, unpaid care work and positive masculinity.

Elizita’s story

With few opportunities to voice her opinions and ideas, Elizita lacked the confidence to speak out on the issues that affected her and other young women in her community. This all changed when she attended Youth Changemaker trainings.

“In the past, I was not confident enough to attend and perform any activity in my village. But after attending Youth Changemaker trainings, I have gained a lot of skills and knowledge and increased my confidence level to lead sessions and activities in my village. My top three topics are leadership, peace jam and basic life skills and my favourite one is leadership because thanks to this topic, I am now a youth leader in my village.”

Elizita, a youth leader in Timor-Leste.

Now, a youth leader in her village and facilitator for the Youth Changemaker program, Elizita actively encourages women and girls from her community to participate in activities and talk about the issues that affect them.

“Young girls and women need to participate and get involved in as many activities as possible because it encourages us to make changes in our lives and our future.”

Tatiana’s story

Tatiana dreams of becoming a doctor, and believes studying is vital for girls to improve their future.

“By studying hard and getting better education, we can achieve our dreams. So studying is very important.”

As a new changemaker, she is excited to apply what she learns at the trainings in her community and become a positive role model to other young girls like her mother is to her.

“The woman I admire the most is my mum, because she is not only a mother but also a teacher. She goes to work at eight in the morning and teaches until 1pm in the afternoon, then she comes back home to look after us. Mum works very hard, and she is a great role model for me.”

This International Women’s Day, join us in celebrating the new generation of young women and girls who are raising their voices to create a more equal and inclusive world.

The Youth Changemakers project is supported by ChildFund New Zealand and implemented in Lautem municipality by ChildFund Timor-Leste and local partner, Ba Futuru.

Find out more about our work in Timor-Leste.

Related Stories

It’s never too early or too late to learn new skills!

Read Story

Families learning to care for children living with disabilities

Read Story

Mithusa is working towards a big milestone – taking her first steps

Read Story