This site brings together the publications of Dr. Sara Niner about people & politics in Timor-Leste.

05 October, 2010

Bisoi—a woman of resistance: recognition of women veteran’s in Timor-Leste

... What is very upsetting is that the discrimination is from our own partners in the struggle… (Bisoi Interview 2010)
In Timor-Leste today women combatants who served the nationalist movement for independence (1974-1999) have been treated with discrimination historically and as an afterthought in the process of recognizing veterans. How a post-war society treats its female veterans is a significant indicator on the status and future of women in that society (c.f Enloe 2004). In Timor-Leste women who served either directly in the guerrilla army Falintil as combatants or those who carried out military support roles have not been recognised and rewarded adequately or appropriately, unlike their male colleagues. This issue is being elaborated here by taking a biographical approach. This approach has the advantage of providing an exploration of a woman’s political involvement from her own perspective illuminating the experiences of women more fully.
Rosa de Camara is better known by her resistance code name of Bisoi. She is one of the women who served the nationalist movement bravely and continuously but she feels her role has not been fully recognized. She is now a member of parliament and is still fighting for women’s rights in society and for better treatment of women combatants. This paper will trace her personal story along with supplying the historical context for her comments including a gender analysis of this evidence. It will conclude with some documentation of the process of veteran recognition. Previous evaluation reports have not focused on a gender analysis of this process and this paper provides the first in depth investigation in this regard and explains why the veterans recognition process has not been fair for women.

This paper was delivered at the 10th Women in Asia Conference at ANU 1 October 2010


A VERSION WILL ALSO BE PUBLISHED IN UPCOMING BOOK: 'Women in Nationalist Movements in Southeast Asia' editing by Helen Ting and Susan Blackburn

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