Bin-Alin Hakbi’it Malu (Sisters Empowering Each Other) Feminist Leadership Pilot

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In Dili, Timor-Leste, EQI has piloted a new feminist leadership incubator, providing a transformational space of co-learning and self- and collective-care.

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From January-November 2021, Bin-Alin Hakbi’it Malu (BAHM Phase 1) supported 16 Timorese feminists, activists, and leaders to enhance their confidence, leadership qualities, self- and collective- care skills, and knowledge foundation in feminism.

Months after the end of Bin-Alin Hakbi’it Malu Phase 1, participants who were brought together by the program continue to support each other through significant life decisions and are collaborating on new feminist initiatives.


We worked in partnership with The Australian Government’s Nabilan (Ending Violence against Women and Children) Program.

A group photo of the BAHM participants, some kneeling and some sitting down. They are smiling and all holding a bright yellow sunflower.
BAHM Phase 1 participants celebrate at the Pilot’s Closing Retreat in Dili, Timor-Leste, November 2022.
Photo credit: Mariano Gonçalves Visual Art


BAHM Phase 1 used intersectional feminist approaches to build a leadership program that centred the needs of feminists and activists in low resource settings as individuals.

The program opened and closed with in-person retreats to build trust and community and take a trauma-informed approach of centring the wellbeing of participants.

A feminist curriculum, co-mentoring, and spaces for critical reflection, self and community care, helped to build connections across diverse sectors, which, some participants reported, resulted in personal transformations.

It used low-cost techniques, such as facilitated analysis, breathwork, gratitude practices, and self-reflection, and reimagined Timorese feminism, ritual, and tradition in new and empowering ways.

Why invest in feminist leadership? Immediate impacts: Increased relationships, learning, and collaboration across organisations and sectors. Increased ownership and participation in projects. Increased individual resilience e.g. to trauma and burnout. Increased embodiment of intersectional and transformational feminist approaches. Flow-on effects: Stronger individual leaders and civil society organisations. More sustainable and aligned grassroots movements. More locally-relevant, successful and transformational development programs. Long-term impacts: Gender equality and reduced rates of gender-based violence. Depicted via an illustration of women in a boat riding waves of progress.
Why invest in feminist leadership programs? Some learnings from BAHM Phase 1.
Illustration credit: Catrin Harris


Activists and feminist leaders are crucial in achieving gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. Yet in Timor-Leste, and globally, resourcing for the people behind these movements is scarce.

Many feminists and activists live with high rates of burnout, and personal and vicarious trauma, and competitive funding cycles create divisions, rather than strengthening the feminist movement.

This pilot was the first of a series of initiatives EQI is developing, trialling new approaches to support feminist leaders most affected by gender inequality and violence against women and girls.

The success of these methods applies to various contexts across the Timorese civil society sector and abroad.