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UNFPA has engaged Bridging Peoples to provide applied research on two separate occasions, to guide their programming and advocacy work with the Government of Timor-Leste. One was one the factors driving the incidence of teenage pregnancy and early marriage; the other on the factors driving the incidence of transactional sex in Timor-Leste.

Carrying out such sensitive research in a conservative, predominantly Catholic country required a strong methodology and ethics framework, protecting the physical and emotional safety of the research respondents. Given the sensitivity of the research and the vulnerability of research respondents, the research took a grounded theory approach and was designed to give respondents as much power over the process as possible, encouraging them to tell their own stories in their own way. Common themes and experiences were then analysed and further focused research was conducted to validate findings.

Both pieces of research are extremely important, and have made an important contribution to analysis and advocacy on the incidence of HIV/AIDS, public health, and young women’s empowerment.


UNFPA greatly appreciated the work of Bridging Peoples, which resulted in a quality piece of research with insightful findings and useful recommendations. Deborah and her team’s professionalism, deep understanding of the cultural context, strategic approach and strong analytical skills yielded a powerful result that will be useful for years to come.”

John M. Pile, Country Representative – Timor-Leste

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