Rebuilding With or Without Women?


True, Jacqui. 2012. “Rebuilding With or Without Women?: Gendered Violence in Postconflict Peace and Reconstruction” In The Political Economy of Violence Against Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Author: Jacqui True


Chapter 8 examines the spike of sexual and gender-based violence in postconflict and peace-building environments. Despite recent UN Security Council resolutions, the invisibility of this violence against women during and after conflict marginalizes women in postconflict state-building and economic reconstruction processes. This economic and political marginalization of women exacerbates violence after conflict and hinders these peace-building efforts. The first part of the chapter applies the political economy approach of the book to reveal how gendered peacekeeping economies exacerbate violence against women. It critiques the prioritization of law and order over social and economic opportunities. The second part examines the role of women in peace-building decision making and economic reconstruction in places as diverse as East Timor; Aceh, Indonesia; Mindanao province in the Philippines; Iraq; Afghanistan; Colombia; Guatemala; the Congo; and Darfur. The chapter concludes by critically assessing two approaches to postconflict prevention of violence against women: the “good practice” of placing women peacekeepers in postconflict zones and the role of reparations in ensuring women's equal access to postconflict development.


Keywords: post conflict, peacekeeping economies, reparations, peacebuilding, economic reconstruction

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Political Economies, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, Americas, Central America, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania Countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iraq, Philippines, Sudan, Timor-Leste

Year: 2012

The Problem of Gender Quotas: Women’s Representatives on Timor-Leste’s Suku Councils


Cummins, Deborah. 2011. “The Problem of Gender Quotas: Women’s Representatives on Timor-Leste’s Suku Councils.” Development in Practice 21 (1): 85–95. doi:10.1080/09614524.2011.530246.

Author: Deborah Cummins



This article examines the experiences of women occupying reserved seats on the suku councils of Timor-Leste (each of which represents a number of small villages). The limited political participation of these women is often ascribed to patriarchal ideas within rural areas, and the need for capacity development. This article argues, however, that there are further structural issues at play, whereby the interaction between traditional and modern governance makes it difficult for women occupying reserved seats to make their mark. While gender quotas can be a useful tool to encourage women’s political participation, these structural issues need to be recognised and addressed in order to truly empower women.


Cet article examineles expériences des femmes qui occupent des sièges réservés au sein des conseils desuku duTimor oriental (dont chacun repreésente un petit nombre de petits villages). La participation politique limitée de ces femmes est souvent attribuée à des idées patriarcales propres aux zones rurales et à la nécessité de développement des capacités. Cet article soutient, toutefois, qu’il y a d’autres questions structurelles en jeu, dans le cadre desquelles l’interaction entre la gouvernance traditionnelle et moderne fait qu’il est difficile pour les femmes qui occupent des sièges re´serve´s de s’imposer. Bien que les quotas de genrepuissent constituer un outil utile pour encourager la participation politique des femmes, ces questions structurelles doivent être reconnues et résolues pour véritablement autonomiser les femmes.


Este ensayo analiza las experiencias de las mujeres que ocuparon curules reservadas para ellas en los consejos suku de Timor Oriental (cada uno de ellos representaba varias aldeas). La limitada participacio´n polı´tica de las mujeres se atribuye a menudo a las ideas patriarcales que existen en el a´mbito rural y a la necesidad de desarrollar capacidades. Sin embargo, el ensayo sostiene que entran en juego otros temas estructurales como la interaccio´n entre gobierno tradicional y moderno, lo cual impide que las mujeres que ocupan curules reservadas consigan el impacto deseado. Desde luego, las cuotas de ge´nero pueden favorecer una mayor participacio´n polı´tica de las mujeres, pero para que las mujeres se empoderen de manera significativa el orden estructural tiene que ser visibilizado y deconstruido.


Este artigo examina as experieˆncias das mulheres que esta˜o ocupando posic¸o˜es reservadas nos conselhos de suku de Timor-Leste (cada um deles representa va´rios vilarejos pequenos). A participac¸a˜o polı´tica limitada destas mulheres e´ frequentemente atribuı´da a ideias patriarcais dentro de a´reas rurais e a` necessidade de desenvolvimento de capacidades. Este artigo argumenta, pore´m, que ha´ outras questo˜es estruturais em jogo, que fazem com que a interac¸a˜o entre a governanc¸a tradicional e a moderna dificulte que as mulheres ocupem posic¸o˜es que possibilitem que elas fac¸am uma diferenc¸a. Embora as quotas de geˆnero possam ser uma ferramenta u´til para incentivar a participac¸a˜o polı´tica das mulheres, essas questo˜es estruturais precisam ser reconhecidas e abordadas para realmente empoderar as mulheres.

Keywords: aid, gender, diversity, governace, public policy, Southeast Asia

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Quotas, Justice, Political Participation Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2011

After the Truth Commission: Gender and Citizenship in Timor-Leste


Kent, Lia. 2016. “After the Truth Commission: Gender and Citizenship in Timor-Leste.” Human Rights Review 17 (1): 51–70. 

Author: Lia Kent


This article explores the relationship between truth commissions and gendered citizenship through a case study of Timor-Leste. It examines how, 10 years after the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) has completed its work, women's citizenship remains constrained by, and negotiated within, deeply gendered narratives of nation-building that are informed by historical experiences of the resistance struggle. The power of these narratives--which foreground heroism rather than victimisation--underscores the need to situate truth commissions as part of an ongoing politics of memory. Despite the power of political elites to shape this politics, the continued marginalisation of sections of society within official narratives is also providing an impetus for alternative truth-telling efforts that seek to broaden public perspectives on the past. By promoting new narratives of women's experiences of the conflict, these projects might be understood as attempts to negotiate and transform gendered conceptions of citizenship in the present and for the future.

Keywords: truth commissions, memory, politics, gender, citizenship, Timor-Leste

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Political Participation Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2016

Local Memory Practices in East Timor: Disrupting Transitional Justice Narratives


Kent, Lia. 2011. “Local Memory Practices in East Timor: Disrupting Transitional Justice Narratives.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 434–55. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr016.

Author: Lia Kent


Transitional justice discourse is underpinned by an assumption that trials and truth commissions will assist individuals and societies to ‘come to terms’ with, and move on from, complex legacies of violence. This article considers how local practices of memorialization and commemoration, and the activities of victims’ groups in East Timor, disrupt these assumptions. It highlights how individuals and local communities in East Timor are attempting to ‘remake a world’ in ways that may differ markedly from the priorities of UN-sponsored transitional justice institutions and their nation's leaders. In addition, it explores how some survivors are embracing the language of victims’ rights to appeal to the state to respond to their experiences of suffering. These developments, which indicate that survivors are in various ways embracing, resisting and transforming ‘official’ justice discourses, highlight that the pursuit of justice in post-referendum East Timor is far more dynamic, locally grounded and open-ended than the narrative of transition implies.

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2011

Dance and Martial Arts in Timor Leste: The Performance of Resilience in a Post-Conflict Environment


Siapno, Jacqueline. 2012. “Dance and Martial Arts in Timor Leste: The Performance of Resilience in a Post-Conflict Environment.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 33 (4): 427–43. 

Author: Jacqueline Siapno


This paper is an ethnographic study of dance traditions and martial arts training in rural upland mountain communities and the urban capital, Dili, in Timor Leste, and how ‘speaking beyond trauma’ is articulated through body movements. It explores the relationship between individual body movement and socio-political ecological movements, both at the level of the local (rural villages) and the global (global governance outfits). It examines the intersection/s between indigenous traditional Timorese dances (such as soro tais, sau batar, foti raba, likurai, bidu, tebedai, tebe-tebe and other dances) and external ideational influences brought in by the presence of UN Peacekeeping and Police and international aid workers (including aikido martial arts). What do dance traditions tell us about the resilience of cultural identity in a post-war, post-revolutionary, post-conflict environment? What kinds of impact do external ideational influences, including martial arts forms, have on local communities? How are gender systems and gender relations in the community transformed? It suggests that embodiment and local knowledges formed through practices and regimens of bodily discipline, grace and physical training (such as in ritual, martial arts and performing arts, for example), can complement and/or challenge abstract theoretical writings on ‘embodying peace’ in post-war countries.

Keywords: resilience, post-war environments, female mobility, rural development, Timorese traditional dance, embodying peace, martial arts

Topics: Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Health, Trauma, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Post-Conflict Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2012

Living through Terror: Everyday Resilience in East Timor and Aceh


Siapno, Jacqueline Aquino. 2009. “Living through Terror: Everyday Resilience in East Timor and Aceh.” Social Identities 15 (1): 43–64. doi:10.1080/13504630802692903.

Author: Jacqueline Aquino Siapnoa


Rather than subordinating the author’s lived experience and embodied knowledge of violence to a dialogue with a ‘rule of experts’, the essay considers how international and local responses to violence can be better integrated from the survivor’s points of view. The essay traces the process that goes from the direct experience of violence to emotional healing as a spiritual journey of under- standing the conditions for a sustainable, embodied peace. The essay was written over a period of two years, starting in March 2006 when the author returned to Aceh to conduct research on forced displacement after a six-year absence. In April 2006 the security situation in Timor Leste worsened and the author found herself writing the first draft in a gudang (storage room) in Gleno, Ermera, where she and her family were forcibly displaced for several months. In May 26 the author’s home in Delta I, Dili, was burnt down, and, subsequently, in the space of one to two months more than two thousand homes were burnt down throughout Dili, causing thousands of people to be displaced. The first draft of the essay was completed in February 2008, after attempted assassinations on the President and Prime Minister of Timor Leste. By this time, the author was very ill, after having been evacuated three times, and in the precarious condition of being Timor Leste’s ‘interim first lady’. Once the author had been able to heal and regain her strength, having initially wanted to withdraw what seemed a depressing piece of writing, the final draft of this essay was completed. Thus, the essay highlights the process of writing and re-writing of a self-reflexive, marginal female scholar who is immersed in social, political, and ecological movements in both Aceh and Timor Leste, and whose ethical responsibility is to disclose the truths, deficiencies, and weaknesses not just of herself but also of the character of the state and political leaders in these two societies. In this sense, the essay addresses more broadly the challenges faced by scholars who write ‘theory’ while living their everyday in a conflict environment. 


Keywords: resilience, embodying peace, equilibrium, agency, speaking beyond trauma, militarised masculinities

Topics: Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Health Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania Countries: Indonesia, Timor-Leste

Year: 2009

Defying Victimhood: Women and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding


Schnabel, Albrecht and Amara Tabyshalieva, eds. 2012. Defying Victimhood: Women and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Tokyo and New York: United Nations University Press.

Authors: Amara Tabyshalieva, Albrecht Schnabel


Women are among the most competent, yet marginalized, unnoticed and underutilized actors in efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. Opportunities for sustainable peacebuilding are lost - and sustainable peace is at risk - when significant stakeholders in a society's future peace and conflict architecture are excluded from efforts to heal the wounds of war and build a new society and a new state. The contributors to this book draw on comparative case and country studies from post-conflict contexts in different parts of world to offer their insights into frameworks for understanding women as both victims and peacebuilders, to trace the road that women take from victimhood to empowerment and to highlight the essential partnerships between women and children and how they contribute to peace. The authors examine the roles of women in political and security institutions.



1 Forgone opportunities: The marginalization of women’s contributions to post-conflict peacebuilding; Albrecht Schnabel and Anara Tabyshalieva

2 Frameworks for understanding women as victims and peacebuilders; Lisa Schirch

Part I: From victimhood to empowerment: Patterns and changes

3 Mass crimes and resilience of women: A cross-national perspective;  Krishna Kumar

4 Victimization, empowerment and the impact of UN peacekeeping missions on women and children: Lessons from Cambodia and Timor-Leste; Sumie Nakaya

5 Frontline peacebuilding: Women’s reconstruction initiatives in Burundi;  Rose M. Kadende-Kaiser

Part II: Women and children: Essential partnership of survival and peace.

6 Women and children in the post-Cold War Balkans: Concerns and responses; Constantine P. Danopoulos, Konstantinos S. Skandalis and Zlatko Isakovic

7 Emerging from poverty as champions of change: Women and children in post-war Tajikistan; Svetlana Sharipova and Hermine De Soto

8 Young mothers as agents of peacebuilding: Lessons from an early childcare and development project in Macedonia; Deborah Davis

Part III: Putting good intentions into practice: National and global efforts to right past wrongs.

9 Gender and transitional justice: Experiences from South Africa, Rwanda and Sierra Leone; Lyn S. Graybill

10 Empowering women to promote peace and security: From the global to the local – Securing and implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325; Ancil Adrian-Paul

Part IV: Deconstructing victimhood: Women in political and security institutions.

11 State-building or survival in conflict and post-conflict situations? A peacebuilding perspective on Palestinian women’s contributions to ending the Israeli occupation;  Vanessa Farr

12 Women’s participation in political decision-making and recovery processes in post-conflict Lebanon; Kari H. Karamé

13 Combating stereotypes: Female security personnel in post-conflict contexts; Kristin Valasek


14 Defying victimhood: Women as activists and peacebuilders; Anara Tabyshalieva and Albrecht Schnabel

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Political Economies, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Oceania Countries: Burundi, Lebanon, Macedonia, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste

Year: 2012

A Luta Kontinua (The Struggle Continues): The Marginalization of East Timorese Women Within the Veterans’ Valorization Scheme


Kent, Lia, and Naomi Kinsella. 2015. “A Luta Kontinua (The Struggle Continues): The Marginalization of East Timorese Women Within the Veterans’ Valorization Scheme.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (3): 473–94. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.913383.

Authors: Lia Kent, Naomi Kinsella


This article examines how East Timorese women's contributions to the resistance against the twenty-four-year Indonesian occupation (“the Resistance”) have been marginalized within the veteran's valorization scheme (veterans' scheme) established in the post-conflict period. Drawing on interviews with politicians, veterans and members of women's organizations, we show that although women played significant roles within the Armed, Clandestine and Diplomatic fronts, for the most part they have not been recognized as veterans within the veterans' scheme. Instead, the scheme has reinforced perceptions of women's roles as wives, mothers, homemakers and widows, rather than as political actors, suggesting that the return to “peace” in Timor-Leste has been accompanied by the strengthening of patriarchal traditions and the expectation that women return to “traditional” roles. We argue that the failure to recognize women as veterans is problematic both for East Timorese women and society as a whole. It represents a lost opportunity to recognize women's agency and potentially to improve their social status in society. It also narrows the way in which the independence struggle is remembered and represented and further promotes a culture of “militarized masculinity” that elevates and rewards men who show the capacity to use violence.

Keywords: Timor-Leste, resistance, post-conflict, veterans, women's recognition, militarized masculinity

Topics: Civil Society, Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2015

Narratives of Suffering and Endurance: Coercive Sexual Relationships, Truth Commissions and Possibilities for Gender Justice in Timor-Leste


Kent, Lia. 2014. “Narratives of Suffering and Endurance: Coercive Sexual Relationships, Truth Commissions and Possibilities for Gender Justice in Timor-Leste.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 8 (2): 289–313. doi:10.1093/ijtj/iju008.

Author: Lia Kent


This article examines the narratives of 19 East Timorese women who were coerced into sexual relationships with members of the Indonesian security forces during the 24-year Indonesian occupation. Close attention to the key themes emerging from these stories helps to deepen understandings of women’s diverse experiences of the conflict and postconflict periods, and sheds light on the gendered possibilities and limits of truth commissions. By destabilizing the therapeutic assumptions of truth commissions, these women’s narratives also assist in developing a more contextualized, locally grounded and long-term approach to the pursuit of gender justice in Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

Keywords: Timor-Leste, women's narrative, sexual violence, truth commissions, gender justice

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Sexual Violence Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2014

Are Women Peaceful? Reflections on the Role of Women in Peace-Building


Charlesworth, Hilary. 2008. ‘Are Women Peaceful? Reflections on the Role of Women in Peace-Building’. Feminist Legal Studies 16 (3): 347–61.

Author: Hilary Charlesworth


This paper examines the way that women’s relationship to peace is constructed in international institutions and international law. It identifies a set of claims about women and peace that are typically made and considers these in light of women’s experience in the conflicts in Bougainville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. 


Keywords: Bougainville, democracy, East Timor, international law, peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction, Solomon Islands, women

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, International Law, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Oceania Countries: Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste

Year: 2008


© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.

Subscribe to RSS - Timor-Leste