Effective infrastructure attracts commercial investment by reducing transportation costs and improving access to labour and materials. It also reduces poverty by connecting poor people, including women and girls, to vital health and education facilities, markets and employment opportunities. Integrating gender equality into rural roads development increases economic growth.
In partnership with the ILO, the Australian Government supports Timor-Leste through the Roads for Development (R4D) program. By rehabilitating and maintaining rural roads, R4D boosts economic growth and reduces poverty by connecting coffee farms and other productive businesses to the country’s broader road network.
Participation of women is a high priority and the project is on track to meeting its target of 50 per cent women, having already met its minimum quota of 30 per cent. Nine (15 per cent) companies owned by females have been contracted as part of R4D. Short-term employment opportunities have benefited women by increasing their skills and confidence in work. As a result of improved rural roads, women can access more diverse food sources and better health services. They now also spend less time collecting water.
R4D is piloting innovative approaches to breaking barriers that constrain women’s participation.