6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where we are?

Women stall holders in Dili’s Hali Laran market.
Women stall holders in Dili’s Hali Laran market. Photo: Sandra Magno/UNDP TL

While there are a higher proportion of girls to boys in primary and secondary education, this reverses at the tertiary level, with 83 girls to every 100 boys.

In 2001, the ratio of literate women to men was high at 96 per cent. This figure increased slightly to 97 per cent in 2004, but in 2007 it fell to 93 per cent. Achieving a ratio of 100 per cent of literate women to men by 2015 is possible with consistent work in this area. In addition, there are discrepancies between rural and urban areas where male literacy rates are higher.

The low percentage of female wage-earners in the non-agricultural sector (36 per cent in 2007) reflects traditional male dominance in this area.

A positive trend in Timor-Leste is the high proportion of female parliamentarians. As of 2012, women held 38 per cent of the seats in the National Parliament, the highest percentage in South Asia.

What needs to be done

  • Education sector policies that ensure girls have the same educational opportunities as boys
  • Increase employment opportunities for women in non-agricultural sectors
  • Address discrepancies between rural and urban areas
  • Suitable policies to avoid discrimination against women in the workforce


Sources: 2009 The Millennium Development Goals, Timor-Leste, RDTL and UN; Millennium Development Goals 2010, RDTL, National Statistics Directorate, Ministry of Finance and ICF Macro, 2010; 2009-10 Timor-Leste Demographic and Health Survey: Key Findings, Dili, Timor-Leste, NCD and ICF Macro; Timor-Leste MDG-F Case Study Evaluation, 2012.  

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1.2 years
remaining
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament