Date: June 15, 2022
ACbit has been working with Hivos and Fokupers on the Reforsa Hamutuk project, a 33-month project funded by the European Union, since 2020. One of the aims of this project is to promote the economic inclusion of women survivors of past conflicts and victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in Timor-Leste. Therefore, on June 15, 2022, ACbit in collaboration with focal points, women survivors from KLISSO and the village authority of Suco Lalisuk, held a bazaar and seminar themed “Promoting Local Products to Empower the Economy of Women Survivors” in the compound of Madre Franciscana Padiae, Oecusse.
This event was opened by Mr. Arsenio Paixão Bano the President Authority of RAEOA ZEESM-TL, and also attended by Mr. Pedro da Cunha Silva, the Regional Secretary for Agricultural Issues of RAEOA ZEESM-TL and Mr. Jose Eta, the Regional Secretary for Commerce and Industry Issues of RAEOA ZEESM-TL. In his opening remarks, Mr. Arsenio Paixão Bano highlighted the RAEOA authority’s commitment to support women survivors by stating that, “The RAEOA Authority have a division on promoting gender equality and social inclusion. Through this division, in 2021 and 2022, we have a $100,000 funding to support groups (in RAEOA). If KLISSO women have a business activity that is well-managed, you can also access the funds (to support the activity). We really want women to be strong in their economy, especially women from vulnerable groups.”
In this one-day bazaar, ACbit provided the opportunity for 10 women’s survivors and local women entrepreneurs to sell their products such as local rice, popcorn, papayas, ketupat, taros, bananas, local grapes, cassavas, peanuts, and coffee. There were also handicrafts, such as tais and woven basket. Talking about the event, Ms. Lorença Lalisuk from the Necaf Mese group who sold her products at this bazaar said, “I feel happy because people bought the products we sold until they were all gone, and we made a $50.00 profit. In the future, I want to participate again in events like this because it can make us happy and we can also earn money to fulfil the needs of our family”.
Similarly, Ms. Maria de Fatima Colo, from the KLISSO group said, “Today, we sold tais and food, such as cassavas, papayas, cakes, fried chickens, ketupat, and coffee. From all these products, we made a profit of $195,00. We were very happy because, if we just stayed at home, we wouldn’t earn money like this. Through this bazaar, we could earn money. Even though the income that we got was not much, we could share it, a small amount each, to the group members”.
Beside the bazaar and seminar, ACbit also screened three short films about the experience of women survivors and victims’ of GBV from three municipalities: Ainaro, Baucau, Dili and RAEOA. After the screening, ACbit also guided a discussion with three panellists, namely Ms. Sebastiana C. Pereira, the Unit Coordinator for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, from the Cabinet of the President of the RAEOA Authority ZEESM TL, Mr. Arnaldo Suni, the Coordinator of Victims Association of RAEOA, and Mr. Hermilindo Lalisuk, the Village Chief of Lalisuk, to discuss the importance of promoting the economic and social inclusion of women survivors of past conflict and victims of GBV. A total of 116 audiences were watching these three short films and discussion.
Ms. Marcelino Paixão Cofitala, a member group of KLISSO who also took part in one of the films, said, “After watching this film, I felt happy because this film can serve as an example for women survivors from other municipalities. They can watch and learn about the activities that we carry out in our group”.
The aim of this event was to provide opportunities for women survivors who run a small business to promote and market their products, bring them together to build their networks with each other, as well as with government, businesses, civil society organization and buyers in general. It was also aimed to provide a safe space for women survivors to share their experiences as a way to build public awareness about the impact of GBV and past conflict violence, rises public awareness on helping women to develop their activities to be independent, the importance of women’s economic expansion, and to bring new motivation and inspiration to strengthen women’s economy.