Gender equality is a human right, necessary for advancing development and reducing poverty. In the Pacific, it has been estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Gender equality requires the involvement of men and boys.
The Men’s Health and Gender Program in Timor-Leste is a peer education program implemented as a partnership between Family Planning NSW and Cooperativa Café Timor. The program raises awareness of the role of men as partners and key family decision-makers, to help to change attitudes and behaviours which positively impact on key aspects of family and community life. This includes family planning, gender violence and issues around family health. By doing so, it aims to address gender inequality and the high rates of domestic and sexual violence against women.
Alfredo was chosen by his community to be a peer educator because of his commitment to improving community health following the death of his wife in childbirth.
“The peer education program has given me the opportunity to educate men and the community on health issues especially on pregnancy and the danger signs so that what happened to my family doesn't happen to others.”
Alfredo has completed all seven modules of the program and is now repeating them. Four times a month he walks to each aldeia (village) to run a program. He runs six men's groups in four aldeias. Both men and women attend with between ten and twenty participants in each group.
To date over 19,000 men and 700 women have been trained. In 2018-19, 14 peer educators will continue to deliver monthly education sessions to men and women.
Family Planning NSW is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program.