STORY

Advocating for Improved Children’s Rights in Timor-Leste

January 16, 2024

Sometimes both the goal and the means matter, particularly when strengthening civic society organizations and fighting for the rights of juveniles. This partner profile highlights how Counterpart’s USAID/Timor-Leste NGO Advocacy for Good Governance Activity is boosting the advocacy skills of our partners, who in turn use their skills to support others.

Jose Maria “Aze” Moniz is a 37-year-old staff member of the Judicial System Monitoring Program, a local nonprofit working to improve judicial and legislative systems in Timor-Leste. It pursues its mission through advocacy to promote transparency, accountability, and rule of law throughout the country.

Moniz was born in Camanasa in the Cova-Lima municipality on the west coast of Timor-Leste. He joined the organization more than 10 years ago to fulfill his desire to advocate for more fair and effective application of the juvenile justice law and to amend the penal code to strengthen protections for children’s rights. More equitable application of juvenile justice law is crucial to ensuring a formal justice process for minors.

The project works to strengthen the advocacy efforts of nine nonprofits, including the Judicial System Monitoring Program, which is funded in part by Hivos, an international NGO with several local partners in Timor-Leste. Since partnering with us in 2020, Moniz has been one of most active participants in our advocacy trainings. The project team designed the advocacy programming to both build participants’ skills and instill them with the confidence to effectively manage daily and long-term advocacy needs and goals for their respective organizations and civil society overall.

Moniz and a colleague working at computers at a training in front of USAID banner.

Moniz participating in the research and analysis training provided by the NGO Advocacy for Good Governance Activity.

 

Moniz was eager to enhance his own knowledge and share his new skills with like-minded organizations and civic leaders. Moniz successfully completed Counterpart’s capacity building training-of-trainers to ensure that he was prepared to deliver complete advocacy training to others at the Judicial System Monitoring Program, constituents, and other local Hivos-funded partner organizations.

Through our ongoing mentorship and coaching, Moniz gained confidence to his ability to impart his knowledge to local NGOs to better achieve his goal of strong advocacy for children through civil society action. He noted that “sharing experiences with Hivos partners is a privilege and had never before been one of my best practices for advocacy approaches; I learned that from Counterpart.” He added that before attending our training, his abilities were limited to writing press releases and meeting with stakeholders, but through his time with Counterpart, he learned about and embraced the full scope of advocacy efforts, allowing him to champion the rights of children more effectively throughout Timor-Leste.