(Tetum) Thursday 6 March 2014 saw the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI) host International Women’s Day 2014; Inspiring Change in Women’s Health, Food, Nutrition and Wellbeing in Timor-Leste. Development partners from across Timor-Leste came together to celebrate women and promote inspiring change in women’s, men’s and children’s health, food, nutrition and wellbeing. Notably, Seeds of Life, Empreza Di’ak, Marie Stopes Int., Movimentu Feto Foin sae Timor-Leste, PRADET, Feto iha Kbiit Servisu hamutuk (FKSH), Asisténsia Legál ba Feto no Labarik (ALFeLa), Timor-Leste Police Development Program, ChildFundHIAM-Health, Alola, Bellekria, CARE Int.Fokupers, Casa Vida and Zumba Dili collaborated on the day’s activities, while the 150 – 200 guests came from far and wide to attend.

“Many leaders are women and mothers. Women are pillars, an investment that is a determining factor for the future of our nation”.

The formal proceedings were conducted by The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mariano Assanami Sabino, and the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, Idelta Rodrigues. Both representatives gave welcoming addresses outlining the importance of participation in International Women’s Day, the promotion of equality and celebrating the roles already undertaken by women in Timor-Leste. Minister Sabino articulated the government’s support for women’s equality; “On behalf of government, the Ministry (MAF) is giving its full support to the movement toward gender equality. We encourage the women of Timor-Leste to compete hard and move ahead. Equality is a part of state building”.

While Secretary Rodrigues stated that women continue to inspire change both in the family and the whole nation; “Many leaders are women and mothers. Women are pillars, an investment that is a determining factor for the future of our nation”.

The event was both a celebration of the valuable contribution women make in Timor-Leste and an information day, where guests could gain insights on many issues including menstrual hygiene, domestic violence support and reporting, food securityand farming, and nutrition.

Presentations were given on topics ranging from healthy cooking (HIAM Health), self-defence (Timor-Leste Police Development Program) and sexual health (Marie Stopes International). Workshops on gender roles (Empreza Di’ak) and confidence and public speaking (Feto iha Kbiit Servisu hamutuk) were conducted where participants had fun while considering important issues of women’s empowerment and equality.

In Timor-Leste women undertake vital roles in agriculture and farming. Presently, more than 4,000 women are involved with MAF-SoL seed production while 37% of MAF-SoL contract growers of certified seed are women. MAF-SoL has a minimum 30% participation quota for women in all its activities.