Empowerment and inclusion of marginalised youth in the economic and political development of Timor-Leste

Empowerment and inclusion of marginalised youth in the economic and political development of Timor-Leste

Youth Building a New Career in Timor-Leste

Just providing training is not enough, youth need to combine this with practical skills if they want to make changes within their communities. By starting their own businesses, young people can generate their own income, support their families and help their communities to become healthier.

Etha Mota, Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development Programme Manager


While Timor-Leste has a very young population (0-24 years: 61%), youth find it hard to participate in the political or economic sphere. This poses the potential risk that children and young people will be excluded from formal employment and decision-making. The project addresses this situation by increasing their skill-set and preparing youth to use their rights to participate as citizens.


  • Goal: Timorese youth participate in decision-making, realise their economic rights and promote peace.
  • Specific Objective: Youth participate in the political development of their communities and have improved access to employment opportunities and training services.
  • Key objectives: Increased capacity of youth leaders to engage with local leaders. Enhanced economic opportunities for un/underemployed youth.


  • Overall achievement: Increased capacity of youth leaders from vulnerable groups, district-level youth-led CSOs and duty-bearers to engage on community development and local governance processes.
  • Key achievements: Youth Engagement Strategy activities have been implemented in 15 villages to identify vulnerable youth and collect data reaching a total of 4,415 participants (2,125 female/2,290 male).
  • 28 workshops on civic education were attended by 683 (284 female/399 male) and 12 workshops on hygiene education (WASH behaviour change) reached 289 participants (133 female/156 male).
  • 6 community based organisations established providing training in public expenditure monitoring which involve community and local leaders in district level.
  • 4 Debating and Public Speaking Clubs were established (2 in public universities and 2 at secondary schools) and have received training on public speaking, debating and social analysis. The students in secondary schools and universities are confident to speak in public and analyse identified problems they face.
  • Debating and public speaking competitions were held at district and national level (broadcasted on TV) with participation of the Vice Minister of Education, a representative of the Australian Embassy, journalists and teachers (56 participants, 31 female and 25 male).
  • 50 young people (25 female and 25 male) have participated in the national vocational training in the area of hospital administration.


  • EC Contribution: € 479 000 (74.9% of total) with duration of 3 years
  • Target beneficiaries: 100 youth leaders from vulnerable groups and 6 youth-led district-based Civil Society Organisations, 5 000 un/underemployed youth in 4 sub-districts
  • Target location: Districts Aileu (all 4 sub-districts Aileu Vila, Laulara, Remexio and Lequidoe) and Ainaro (sub-district Maubisse)


Maria and Dulce know how to mix cement, write a business plan and dig canals.

After graduating from high school, both girls whose parents are farmers, couldn’t afford to attend university so they remained at home in Aileu District to look for employment. Maria and Dulce chose to attend the Sanitation and Marketing Training so they could learn how to start their own business and support themselves financially.

They learnt how to lay pipes, mix cement and make toilets – tasks that girls in Aileu district rarely perform. Dulce and Maria spent 4 months in Dili completing their training and returned to Aileu to complete 2 months of on the job training – where they improved sanitation facilities in their own district. Both girls know that water-borne diseases in Aileu District are caused by poor sanitation and they hope that as their business grows their neighbours will become healthier.

They know that changing people’s behaviour is a key factor for their business to become a success, and discussing the health benefits of having a toilet is an important part of their business plan. Their goal is to work closely with households who do not currently have a toilet and construct and install toilets at a price that families can afford. By making inexpensive toilets from local materials Maria and Dulce plan to save half of the money they earn so they can grow their business year by year and train other young women to help them expand their business and its benefits to the community.