Odelia, 17, champions for gender equality in Timor-Leste
Dressed in a traditional Timorese ‘tais’, 17-year-old Odelia joined 250 girls and women at Timor-Leste’s first ever Girls’ Conference in June 2016. The conference held numerous workshops which enabled girls to develop action plans as they pertain to education, health, protection and participation. These plans will form part of a larger girls’ declaration.
Odelia came to the conference because she believes that girls should have equal rights. She believes that girls in her community are not seen as important, so she wants to make sure girls get more attention. Odelia joined her peers to help draft the girls’ declaration.
The declaration sets out six priorities covering access to higher education and health, the right to be heard, equal opportunities, the right to learn, lead and decide and to stop discrimination and violence. Odelia will be one of 10 girls presenting this action plan to National Politicians ensuring the voices of girls and what’s important to them is heard directly by key decision makers.
Odelia joined a Child Rights Club in 2013 and then the local Women and Girls Forum, where she had training in leadership and public speaking and learnt how to engage in advocacy at
senior government levels. Since that time she’s grown in confidence and her ambition is to become a diplomat; her dream to one day become Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to Australia.
If she was President of Timor-Leste, Odelia says that she would tackle gender inequality: “I’d call all the women of Timor-Leste together and show that they can do anything. But my first priority would be to focus on stopping violence against women, which is a big problem in my country.”