Linked with Fokupers.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Activist, leader, civil servant, and founder of the women’s organization, Fokupers, Maria Fernandes began her life’s work for human rights and justice for East Timor in high school. She was instrumental in mobilizing the population to vote during the UN-sponsored referendum for independence in 1999 and organized the first National Women’s Congress in 2000 that produced a National Platform for Action. She currently serves as the Director of the Office for the Promotion of Equality and directly advises the Prime Minister on all issues relating to gender equality. Her activism began in high school. She went on to become a prominent leader of the women’s resistance movement against Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste, following the invasion in 1975. (1000peacewomen).
She says: “I feel that this is a big responsibility and I am grateful for the trust given to me, after considering the many opinions and trying to understand better the fight for women’s emancipation” … (full text, 11 October 2001).
Timor-Leste: Humanitarian update, 21 Apr – 09 may 2008.
Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves – East Timor
She works for Fokupers.
Maria Fernandes was one of the main women leaders organizing resistance activities against Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste, after the invasion in 1975. When her child died, as did hundreds of other children, of a suspected overdose administered in the Indonesian campaign to kill off the Timorese people, Maria and her husband sent information to international organizations to highlight the abuses and try to prevent further deaths.
When her husband was imprisoned by the Indonesian administration, Maria had to raise and provide for her children alone but she continued to support the resistance movement against the Indonesian occupation, and more particularly against the abuses women were suffering.
She helped set up the Popular Organization of Timorese Women (OPMT) and worked as a civil servant in the Department of Industry and Commerce, a dual role that involved many risks to her personal safety.
In 1994, she was arrested by Indonesian soldiers and threatened and intimidated over her resistance activities. In 1997, Maria founded Fokupers and during the UN-sponsored referendum for independence in 1999, was involved in mobilizing the population to vote.
As a result, her family had to flee to the hills to escape the systematic campaign of violence by Indonesian and militia forces. But Maria continued to organize assistance for those who were sick and was among the first people to return to Dili to confront the devastation left by the Indonesian campaign.
She organized the first National Women’s Congress in 2000 that produced a National Platform for Action. She stood in the first national elections in 2002 but, despite not winning a seat, she was made Director of the Office for the Promotion of Equality and directly advises the Prime Minister on all gender equality issues. (1000peacewomen).
Women in Agriculture Pay Their Way, 7 MARCH 2002.
… Domestic violence has many roots, explains Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, head of the Office for the Promotion of Equality, an advisory body to the Prime Minister. She cites years of occupation and violence, a patriarchal society and gender roles, drinking, gambling and cock fighting. She also mentions the reason that comes up the most often when the issue is raised: the Barlaque, or the old dowry system that still exists. According to many, it makes some men think they have bought their wife … (UNFPA.org).
IDPs at National Hospital should be moved by next week – The Minister of Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, said that the IDPs who are currently living in the National Hospital compound should be moved as the rehabilitation of the transitional houses in Becora has finished. The Minister said that for health and security reasons, the IDPs have to move. She also said that the IDPs were impeding the rehabilitation of the National Hospital. (East Timor Legal Information Site).
The La’o Hamutuk Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 5: August 2001,
Women and the Reconstruction of East Timor: La’o Hamutuk, The East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis.
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE DISTRIBUTES NEW DRAFT OF CONSTITUTION, 6 February 2002;
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR POLITICAL PARTIES AND PARTISAN COALITIONS FOR THE ELECTION OF DEPUTIES TO THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF TIMOR-LESTE;
Report on research findings ans policy recommendations for a legal framework for land dispute mediation February 2004, 61 pages;
RELATÓRIO DOS RESULTADOS DE PESQUISA E RECOMENDAÇÕES DE POLÍTICA PARA UM QUADRO LEGAL PARA MEDIAÇÃO DAS DISPUTAS DE TERRAS, Fevereiro, 2004, 61 pages;
The Parliament of Timor Leste and the Budgetary Process: Legislative and oversight functions 8-9 May 2003, Dili (Timor Leste), 46 pages;
Parlamentu Nasional Timor-Leste no Prosesu Orsamentáriu: Legislativu no Funsaun Supervisaun
Maiu 8-9, 2003, Dili (Timor-Leste), 46 pages;
CAUCUS FETO IHA POLITIKA, Vizaun Jerál kona-ba Organizasaun no Aprosimasaun kona-ba Jéneru.