CHAIRWOMAN'S STATEMENT : Dra Kirsty Sword Gusmão, AO

KSG on Alola General Meeting


Dear Friends and Supporters of Fundasaun Alola,

It is with tremendous pride and pleasure that I share this annual report for the year 2016. I am sure that you will agree as you browse its pages that Fundasaun Alola continues to contribute significantly to the empowerment, health, education and well-being of Timor-Leste women and their families. I am particularly proud of the leadership exercised by the CEO and program managers at the national level in the spheres of women's political participation, maternal and child health and efforts to address human trafficking. Alola continues to be looked to by government and international development partners to provide advice and inputs on national legal frameworks, policies and programs that affect women. This is due to the strong leadership, grass-roots approaches to bringing about positive change and robust management and governance structures put in place.

Fundasaun Alola's Board comprises women and men with vast and relevant experience across a number of sectors, all providing invaluable advice and support to me and Alola's CEO, Ms Alzira Reis. Whilst their areas of expertise and professional experience are diverse, they are united in sharing Alola's vision of a Timor-Leste which values women and girls and embraces their full and equal participation in all spheres of life. I take this opportunity to thank them all for their contributions to Alola's work this year.

The Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016 Report highlights the fact that close to 86% of women in Timor- Leste face major barriers to accessing health services, with women from poorer and rural households especially likely to experience difficulties. These statistics only reinforce the vital importance of Alola's grassroots maternal and child health work at the village level.

From the time I established Fundasaun Alola in 2001, it has always been one of my and the organisation's goals to work gradually towards having our work recognised by the government of Timor-Leste and for our services and grassroots approaches to delivery integrated into the government's own programs. This year we have achieved this goal in the health sector with the Ministry of Health's (MoH) adoption and nationalisation of Alola's ten-year old Mother Support Group (MSG) model, an initiative which educates and empowers women to make improvements to their own, their family's and their community's health through promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, good infant feeding and safe birthing practices, family planning and immunisation. Parabéns (congratulations) to the hard-working and committeed Maternal and Child Health team for achieving this great milestone.

With the support of our many friends in the local and international community, 2017 will see Alola achieve many more milestones and successes in our important work to give the women of Timor-Leste a voice, the skills and good health they require to contribute to the life of their country.

Thank you for your friendship and solidarity.
Feto Forte, Nasaun Forte!
Strong Women, Strong Nation!

Kirsty Sword Gusmão


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