Revisiting Women's Politics and the Rule of Law in Timor-Leste

Revisiting Women's Politics and the Rule of Law in Timor-Leste

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Deakin Room, Founder's Building, St Antony's College
Phyllis Ferguson (Oxford Transitional Justice Research)
Matthew Walton (Oxford)
Matthew Walton (Oxford)
Southeast Asia Seminar


Timorese women constitute 30% of the Parliament, the highest representation in SE Asia. Since 2004-5, positive discrimination has resulted in women’s membership of Local Councils; their numbers have grown in subsequent local elections. This political empowerment has resulted in a sea change of grass roots public civic education in the application of the Timorese rights-based Constitution, particularly for women and children. These impacts together with that of the 2010 Domestic Violence legislation will be analysed from the perspective of the past five years.


In 2003 Phyllis Ferguson began working in Timor-Leste, first at the Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, researching and writing on Chega! - the report of the 24-year Indonesian Occupation. She then worked for the UN on Peacebuilding and Human Rights initiatives for women and children and on non-violent Education and Training with INGOs and NGOs. During the crisis of 2006 she worked to provide support for women and children in the complex emergency of 170,000 displaced in IDP camps in Dili and the districts, advocating through the Child Protection and Protection Clusters and in the Sex and Gender Based Referral Working Group. She was a founding member of the East Timor Reflection Network, a civil society peace group.


At UNDP and UNIFEM she continued research for a further three years monitoring the emerging role of Timorese women in national and local politics. Since 2010 she has been active in the Oxford Transitional Justice Research Group of the University of Oxford and its Hirondelle Project, while writing on post-conflict in Timor. 


Previously Dr. Ferguson was a member of the History and Social Studies faculties and of St Antony’s College where she coordinated African Studies Programmes from 1987 to 1998. For the next five years she worked with the cooperative International Human Rights Group at the Socio-Legal Studies Centre of the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford.