Bete Fátima is a Timorese human rights defender who is passionate about women and child rights. Bete works as a facilitator and coordinator of Pre-School education at Ba Futuru ONG, a leading not-for-profit organisation that works across Timor-Leste to protect children, reduce violence, empower women and inspire young people. ‘Ba Futuru’, in the local language Tetun, means “For the Future.”
Bete participated in DTP’s Timor program in 2013. She was recommended for participation as a young and emerging leader by Rotary Club, Australia, which has supported the development of young leaders in Timor-Leste. Bete remains highly appreciative about the training she received from DTP.
“DTP was instrumental in my personal and professional development. Back when my English proficiency was not at its best, the DTP training, to me, emerged as an encouragement of knowledge and empowerment. It provided me with a profound comprehension of both international and national laws, equipping me with the tools to navigate complex human rights issues with confidence and competence. It was a transformative experience that laid the foundation for my journey in advocating for justice and equality.”
Gender based violence, and violence against children, has emerged as one of key human rights challenges in Timor-Leste following independence. This violence existed before, but received less focus because of the violence of the occupation and the focus on the right to self-determination. The inter-generational trauma of the occupation and conflict is a causal factor in continuing violence.
Bete’s responsibilities extend to facilitating conflict resolution, discussions on leadership, and acting as a Ba Futuru focal point of Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) and Child Protection Policy. Bete also handles case referrals and reporting incidents of abuse and sexual harassment. Her work contributes to creating a safe and supportive environment for Timorese children.
Bete’s leadership qualities were recognised by Rotary International while she was working as a volunteer to empower women in her community. Bete was a charter Member of the Rotary Club of Dili Lafaek-Timor-Leste in 2016. She served as President in 2018-2019 and Treasurer in 2022-2024. Under her leadership, the Rotary Club has focused on essential areas such as Water, sanitation, and hygiene, Maternal and child health, Peacebuilding and conflict prevention, Disease prevention and treatment, and Basic education and literacy.
Bete believes that DTP stands as a valuable program enriching the capacity of individuals dedicated to the field of human rights.
“Its significance lies not only in its educational offerings but in its power to inspire and mobilize others. DTP facilitates meaningful networking and connections and equips us with the expertise needed to confront and address the myriad challenges we encounter in our pursuit of justice. It’s a program that not only educates but empowers, fostering a global network of advocates committed to positive change.”
In her continued pursuit of a more just and equitable Timorese society, Bete aims to focus on special needs education for children with disabilities in the future. Her dream is to contribute to equality through ensuring specialized support and education for children with intellectual disabilities, including autism, down syndrome and hyperactivity.