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As we celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, let’s celebrate the women innovators around the world who are breaking down barriers to rights and choices and building a more gender-equal world.

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are critical, not only to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but also to finally realizing the vision of the 1994 International Conference in Population and Development, ICPD, which linked reproductive health and rights to sustainable development. Twenty-five years since this path-breaking event, hundreds of millions of women still lack the power to make their own decisions about whether, when, with whom or how often to become pregnant. It doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why UNFPA is innovating with our partners for contraceptive choice, safe birth, and to end violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

UNFPA Timor-Leste will continue to work with the Ministry of Health, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, the Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion, UN sister agencies, and other relevant development partners to promote, and support the health of women and girls in Timor-Leste, in particular through our Three Transformative Results - ending preventable maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning, and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls. That means continuing to train skilled birth attendants able to provide life-saving services when childbirth becomes complicated. It means continuing to advocate for increased access to contraceptives and the provision of adolescent sexual and reproductive health services. And it means continuing to actively campaign against gender-based violence that can cause life-threatening injuries to young girls and adolescents.