Press Release

Government of Timor-Leste, European Union, and UN launch Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls

05 March 2020

  • Her Excellency Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus, Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion, launched the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative in presence of members of the Government, the Delegation of the European Union, the United Nations System, diplomatic missions, business community, academia, and civil society organisations.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, relentless and distressing human rights violations in the world. It is one of the major obstacles to the realisation of rights of women and girls and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Spotlight Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.

Timor-Leste is one of the countries that benefits from the Spotlight Initiative with the support of the Government, civil society as well as partners in eradication of violence against women and girls. After achieving significant progress in the last 20 years since its historic vote for independence, Timor-Leste has demonstrated its commitment to ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG) and intimate partner violence. Despite the vision for equality, violence against women remains a challenge, with estimates from 38% to 59% of women experiencing violence in their lifetime.

"I highly appreciate the Spotlight Initiative, which is in line with the commitments of the Government of Timor-Leste to promote and protect the dignity and rights of women. In Timor-Leste, the Government is giving prominence to prevention, protection and the provision of services, alongside broader efforts to ensure women's economic empowerment and participation in all aspects of society. The Government of Timor-Leste do stand fully committed to zero tolerance against any form, kind, and shape of violence against our women and girls”, stated Her Excellency Ms Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus, officially launching the programme.

This official launch marks the beginning of the first phase of the Spotlight Initiative in three priority municipalities of Bobonaro, Ermera and Viqueque. The programme aims at supporting measures of the Government to eliminate all kinds of harmful practices around violence against women and girls. The three-year investment of the Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste amounts to USD15 million. It aims to strengthen country’s legal frameworks and institutions, promote positive social norms, increase access to support services for survivors of violence, improve the collection and use of data for better policy making, strengthen the partnerships with civil society organisations. The Initiative is led by the UN Resident Coordinator in Timor-Leste and will be implemented jointly by UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and ILO.

“Violence against women and girls prevents the achievement of human rights and development in any society. In Timor-Leste the United Nations is working closely with many people and institutions, from the top leadership to the grassroots, including the Government, civil society, private sector, development partners, men and boys, women and girls to make a real change. For the United Nations, the Spotlight Initiative is a new approach to achieve gender equality in the spirit of oneness, partnership and the reciprocity of five UN agencies working  together to achieve Global Goals by 2030”, emphasised Mr Roy Trivedy, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Timor-Leste.

The Spotlight Initiative is a multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations, with a global investment of EUR 500 million or USD 550 million, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. It is one of the world's largest programmes for women and girls. In Timor-Leste the Initiative will especially be focusing on the elimination of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

“The European Union is pleased to support Timor-Leste’s efforts to end the terrible, and widespread, scourge of violence against women and girls. The Spotlight Initiative will involve everyone in these efforts, including men and boys, without whom we cannot be successful.  A society free of gender-based violence is a more equal society, one in which all people enjoy the same rights and opportunities. Gender-based violence is a well-documented human rights violation, a barrier to social, political, and economic participation. It undermines the safety, dignity, and overall health status of the individuals who experience it. The Spotlight Initiative will enhance efforts and strengthen institutions to ensure women and girls will never again live in fear”, said Andrew Jacobs, EU Ambassador to Timor-Leste.




The Spotlight Initiative, launched in September 2017, is a multi-year global partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women's empowerment as a precondition and driver for achieving sustainable development goals.

In the Pacific, the situation is particularly worrying. In some countries in the region, 76 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Most affected are marginalised women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Timor-Leste is that women and girls enjoy their right to a life free of violence, within an inclusive and gender equitable Timor-Leste. The programme is aligned to the Timor-Leste "National Action Plan on Gender based Violence (2017-2021)" and National SDG Roadmap. It will contribute to the elimination of domestic violence/ intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) by responding to the needs of women and girls and addressing the underlying causes of violence against women and girls, using a multi-sectoral and intersectional approach across the ecological model.

This will involve strengthening and widening partnerships and solidarity across civil society, Government, media, private sector and development partners. The Initiative will empower individuals, equip institutions at national, sub-national and community levels with the policies, systems and mechanisms to prevent and respond to VAWG, and encourage the public to challenge harmful gender norms. Using innovative approaches, the SI will build a social movement of diverse advocates and agents of change for gender equality and social inclusion.

The Spotlight initiative deploys targeted, large-scale investments to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. For more information about the Spotlight Initiative, visit


Ahmed Saleem

Communications Officer

Marina Rini

European Union Communications Officer

Marino Mouzinho

Media Adviser, Office of the Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion

UN entities involved in this initiative

International Labour Organization
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative