At a glance: Timor-Leste

Emerging leaders: Timor-Leste inaugurates young parliamentarians

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2010/VAS
Youth parliamentarians pose with Timor-Leste's President, Ramos Horta, in front of his office.

By Jairus Ligoo

DILI, Timor-Leste, 1 September 2010 – As the day breaks in Dare ‘suco,’ or village, a jovial Rogue Santiago Braga De Araujo, 15, cannot wait to make the 30-minute bumpy road trip down the hill to the capital of Timor-Leste, Dili.

This is the day Rogue has been waiting for and he is not alone. Together with some 130 fellow young people who have been staying in Dare during the week, he is being inaugurated into Timor-Leste’s pioneer Youth Parliament.

Lifting out of ‘chaos’

The youth parliamentarians were identified by a rigorous community selection process undertaken in over 440 sucos country-wide. Each sub-district selected two youth parliamentarians between the ages of 12 and 17.

Timor-Leste’s Youth Parliament process is based on the Council of Ministers’ Resolution 23 of November last year, which endorsed the parliament’s establishment and made it a unique youth participation platform in Timor-Leste. In a conflict-devastated country whose population is majorly constituted by young people, the parliament is an important step.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2010/VAS
Umbelina Concecao Alves Oliveira, 17, from Dili, Timor-Leste, is one of 130 parliamentarians eager to represent the country's youth.

“I’m so happy,” said Rogue. “Three years ago we were in a difficult situation, the whole country was in chaos. Today we show that young people are ready to build the country.”

Youth participation

The inauguration, filled with pomp and glamour by various youth presentations, was attended by youth, development partners and government officials.

“It has been a very exciting process for me and UNICEF as we see Timor-Leste’s leaders creating an institution that will ensure voices of youth are heard and youth participate in developing and uniting the country,” said UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste Jun Kukita.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2010/VAS
Young leaders gather in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, to celebrate the establishment of the country's new Youth Parliament.

“I’m happy that my parents were able to come and witness this occasion,” said one parliamentarian, Umbelina Concecao Alves Oliveira, 17. “They can see that girls too can be leaders.”

Preparing to lead

“This is an opportunity for you to learn and prepare to take leadership,” said President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Jose Ramos Horta as the young parliamentarians visited his office.

The Youth Parliament will provide Timorese youth with a chance to have their voices heard in community and national decision-making processes and will provide them with various leadership opportunities.

The Youth Parliament is supported by UNICEF and the Timor-Leste Secretary of State for Youth and Sport.


 

 

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