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Cristina Amaral, or Kiki as she likes to be called, is Timor-Leste’s first female pilot. She grew up in the isolated district of Oecusse in a country known for its recently restored independence, and couldn’t help but notice that all pilots in her beloved country were male. After studying and balancing the care of her four siblings, she won a scholarship to attend flight school, standing up against the odds in her male-dominated profession. Today, she proudly soars high above the clouds, a remarkable figure in the aviation industry.
Zahra Abdelnaieem is the head of Niswa, a network of community, religious and political leaders that connects with conflict-affected groups to work towards peace and reconciliation. The group also supports survivors of gender-based violence by linking them to medical, legal and community services. Though she has lost the people closest to her and endured incredible struggle to sustain the network, she overcomes obstacles by keeping a positive attitude and tenaciously continues to reach out to her community for strength.
Winner of the prestigious 2014 Gender Equality Advocate Award of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, in November 2013 Amelia a police officer with the Vulnerable Person’s Unit of the National Police of Timor-Leste is a powerful voice and a role model. In a country where women make up less than 20 per cent of the national police force, Amelia, who is a mother of two young children, is one of the longest-serving members of the Vulnerable Persons Unit, which has a particularly challenging mandate, dealing with crimes that are often accepted culturally within society and where survivors face various barriers in accessing justice.