Linked with our presentation of Fokupers – Timor East.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Maria Manuela works tirelessly for the social, economic, and political rights of women against a backdrop of patriarchy, immense poverty and national reconstruction in Timor-Leste.
Maria Manuela Perreira – Timor East
See the list of all East Timorese Grassroots Organisations & Networks (based within East Timor), Organisasi dan jaringan populer.
At age 18, Maria Manuela Perreira decided not to flee with her family to Portugal because she felt her life and commitment lay in East Timor. Since then, she has unwaveringly committed to the principles of equity, justice, and peace in a country that has experienced decades of oppression, conflict, and destruction. In a new era of independence and reconstruction, Maria Manuela shows outstanding vision and compassion as the director of a women’s organization that works tirelessly for the social, economic, and political rights of women against a backdrop of patriarchy and immense poverty.The second eldest of 11 children, Maria Manuela decided not to go with her family to Portugal in 1986 when they were fleeing Indonesian-occupied East Timor. She felt her life and responsibility lay in her home island. She returned there after studies in Yogyakarta and worked as a trainer at Bia Hula NGO, training communities in water and sanitation. She enjoyed the principles of community consultation and providing communities with the means to help themselves.
Maria Manuela has always been opposed to the limitations of Timorese cultural and traditional expectations, particularly regarding women’s status, relationships and the acceptable paths for women to take in life. In 1998, she began working as a volunteer at Fokupers, the newly established women’s organization, and spent much time in the women’s shelters, talking to female victims of domestic violence and becoming a proxy counselor to them.
In 1999, much of Fokupers’ work was destroyed and Maria became part of the team rebuilding the organization. She took on the roles of treasurer and office manager. A year later Maria was elected as the new director of Fokupers and has remained until now a respected mentor and leader to staff and clients alike.
Her works has inspired the NGO community in East Timor, and the Action Men against Violence (Amkv), and facilitated men’s acceptance of gender equality in society. Her work has also gained support for pending domestic violence legislation, strengthened the role of women in the community, and has introduced a model of women’s shelters (Uma Feto) that the new government can adopt.
Maria Manuela is passionate about empowering women at the grassroots level so that they have the skills and confidence to be actively engaged in the development of their villages and instigate sustainable social change.(Read this on 1000peacewomen).
From despair to care: countering domestic abuse in East Timor;
list of women.orgs working for peace;
Submission to the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.