I feel very sad when reflecting on the past when women fought for independence. They were involved on the front lines with weapons and with their expertise in carrying food and medicine. They provided ideas during the negotiation and reconciliation process. They were part of civilian teams at base camps and in the clandestine front.
During and after the armed conflict (1974 - 1999), many women and girls experienced their own forms of suffering and violence, including starvation, imprisonment, rape, and sexual slavery. Yet, their roles in conflicts are not highlighted, and their long involvement in mediation and peace processes is barely discussed in the literature.
Women have the capacity to feel the needs of those in the communities who trust women to lead the mediation and dialogue processes. I want to underline that East Timorese women participated fully in both the peace process and the negotiations. Their expertise in the conflict resolution process is durable and recognized and trusted by the conflicting parties. Women have played important roles during the invasion and post-independence.