WAGE Timor-Leste: Preliminary Gender and Inclusion Analysis

The constitution and statutory laws of Timor-Leste guarantee equal rights and duties for women and men. However, women continue to experience bias and discrimination in practice, driven by historically patriarchal social norms and customary laws. The highly patriarchal system in Timor-Leste predefines gender roles and power dynamics within households and communities and in the market economy. Men are generally viewed as the heads of households, main providers, and decision-makers, while women are in charge of child-rearing and household chores, which limits their capacity to engage in their own economic activities. Although the government of Timor-Leste considers female entrepreneurs, including women who own micro and small enterprises, as engines of growth, women face greater constraints in developing and scaling their businesses than men, including intertwined gendered business and social challenges. Additionally, women entrepreneurs are still expected to perform their usual tasks at home, and they struggle with profitability as they usually work in low-paying sectors such as handicraft production, kiosk operation, agriculture, and tourism. Timorese women also face a high level of gender-based violence (GBV), rooted in unequal gender norms, poverty, and the country’s history of violence connected to its emergence from Indonesian rule. Physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence are often frequent and severe. Building on strategies and best practices of its local partners, and the existing policies and programs of the government and other stakeholders, the Business and Social Support for Female Entrepreneurs in Timor-Leste (BEST) program seeks to create linkages to address the barriers faced by female microentrepreneurs in starting, maintaining, and expanding businesses.

Resource Type:
  • Research & Evaluation

Publication Date: 03/23/2022
  • Asia

Program Area:
  • Inclusive Digital Finance
  • Women Empowered Everywhere

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