Celebrating Catalpa's Wonder Women

This International Women’s Day the theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, so we wanted to pay tribute to some of the wonder women of Catalpa, who are not just smart and skilled but also fearless, funny and feisty!

International Women's Day


Christine Boude
Christine Boude

I love my job because I get to be myself, so it's not a struggle.

I’m from the highlands of Papua New Guinea and my mother was not able to go to school, as boys were prioritised over girls to get an education in those days. I feel sad that she never had the opportunity to learn because she is very smart. But my Dad made sure my sister and I went to school. I loved reading as a child so I travelled through books - we didn't have TV. Now I’ve been educated to a level where I can contribute and our tribe is very excited to have someone who can give back to the community. As a woman in Papua New Guinea I have to juggle three hats every day: wife, mother and career, and on special customary days, a daughter of the tribe and a sister to my brothers.

My role at Catalpa involves project management, which includes planning, aligning to government priorities, stakeholder engagement, coordination and collaboration, communication and monitoring to ensure successful implementation of projects.

On International Women’s Day I want to remind girls and women that in patriarchal societies, our performance and results are what speaks loudest. Excellence is the best deterrent to sexism.

Juliana Texeira

I might be biased, but I think my job is really cool and I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to take on a number of really interesting challenges that enabled me to grow in my soft and technical skills.

What I love the most about Catalpa is our incredibly talented, generous and kind team – women and men. The brains and hearts we have at this organisation are really hard to beat. Second, I truly believe in our approach to international development which gives me a lot of opportunities to do what I feel most passionate about - empathising with people to understand them and together, through co-design, come up with innovative and creative ideas to solve problems.

Having the opportunity to work on the digital design space for the development sector is quite exciting and unique.

My academic background is in design and management of digital products. I worked in comms for a while before I co-founded a tech-music startup.

I came to Timor-Leste to volunteer with an amazing NGO that does really meaningful work with women in remote communities, before joining Catalpa.

I wish, in the next few years, that we see more women in the tech and design space, especially in South East Asia and the Pacific. Women have in their nature a strong capability on building empathy – use that as a core soft skill. And never allow anyone saying you can’t do something because you are a girl/woman - you can do anything as well as any boy/man can.

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Isabel Pereira

My job is really cool in that I get to work on impactful projects such as a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion in Timor-Leste and the Catalpa product team to support the delivery of a social protection program that delivered more than $62 million within 30 days, to more than 312,000 Timor-Leste households.

I then became the coordinator for the Jerasaun Foun program to support nutrition, and health of Timor-Leste’s mothers and children through the provision of regular cash payments. The interesting part of this job is to have a direct impact on people’s lives.

The best thing about this job is the flexibility between colleagues - having everyone on the same page, working in very light rhythms and cool vibes. It almost makes me feel like it isn’t work at all.

After completing my high school in Dili, I began growing my career in the project management area, and also doing translation and interpretation.

I was working for a health NGO where I supported the translation for one of the apps that was being developed by Catalpa. I became more familiar with the organization until one day, the door was open and here I am.

My advice to women and girls is “embrace progress over perfection, for it is the journey of improvement that shapes the path to success.”

Womens Day
Ligia Gutteres

My role encompasses program management, reporting, quality assurance, data analysis, product design and development, training sessions and more. I have the opportunity to learn from many intelligent individuals with diverse knowledge and backgrounds, while also applying and sharing my own skills and knowledge.

In my eight years at Catalpa I have been able to go on a career journey in various roles, including starting as an Education and Nutrition Officer becoming an EdTech coordinator then EdTech Manager and now a Deputy Team Leader for our Partisipa MIS project.

With a background in Informatics Engineering, GIS, and Environmental Management, as well as experience in finance, data analysis, digital design, and management, I like to think of myself as a "chicken soup" of skills - a blend of many different abilities.

I want to convey a message to all the girls and women out there, urging women never to cease learning and to fearlessly express their opinions for themselves and those who are voiceless. Learning is not only formal education alone; it can also be acquired through reading newspapers, listening to the news on the radio or television, or attending informal education. Learning knows no age limit; women from low-income families can seek scholarships, and mothers can continue to pursue education even after having children.

I wish and dream of a world where all girls and women could walk safely day and night - no bullying, no rape, violence or murder - and always feel secure. I hope for equity in all life spheres - work, family, and society.

Rebekah Ilave
Rebekah Ilave

I support programs by coordinating with partners to get our work done. This includes program management, dealing with data, report writing and networking. I work on programs mainly in education and more recently in health.

I have my Bachelors in Environmental Science and worked as a Geographic Information Systems analyst for a few years which also included some field work. At a certain point I wanted to be of service to the development of Papua New Guinea, so I co-founded an edu-tech startup. Since then I did some work digitising educational content, and am now enjoying my work with Catalpa.

My wish for women and girls is for you to follow your intuition about your jobs and not be afraid to take action. Women get judged for missteps in their careers, but mistakes are inevitable for everybody. Take chances on unusual jobs when you're starting out in your career - say yes to a range of opportunities when you're young. It opens up doors for you to lead you further to what you might choose for a career. You cannot go wrong if you trust your gut.

Meggan Turner

I love my job because it’s the perfect blend between creativity and problem solving. As a front-end engineer, I’m responsible for the user-facing parts of our products, writing and maintaining the code to ensure a smooth experience for our users. I get to work closely with our designers, product team, and other developers to bring our ideas to life.

I had a bit of a zig-zaggy path to end up at Catalpa, from studying event management and international relations at university, then discovering an education startup offering courses in technology. After graduating, I spent four years working in the music industry before I saw my dream role advertised at Catalpa, and I’ve been lucky enough to work here ever since.

On International Women’s Day, and every day, I wish for every girl and woman to feel acknowledged and valued by their families, friends, communities and workplaces. IWD is a day to acknowledge both the achievements and challenges that women face throughout their lives, and to push the needle forward towards equity and justice.

Paula Viana

My job is to make sure everything runs smoothly, I talk with government departments and other partners to keep everyone on the same page.

I coordinate and together with the team to plan and organize projects and activities, making sure we're on track to meet our goals.

Sometimes things change, but I'm good at adapting and finding solutions. Building good relationships is key to getting things done.

After an associate degree in informatics engineering, l began teaching and working as an ICT staff at a vocational school in Dili, as well as for a telecommunications company. In 2015, I joined Catalpa as a Project Officer for Liga Inan, advancing to become a Project Coordinator. With Catalpa's support, I am also pursuing a bachelor's degree in informatics engineering. All of this has not only enhanced my education but also enriched my knowledge and skills. It has also boosted my personal confidence and pride in social life.

I wish all girls and women the courage to embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. Let's celebrate our resilience and determination as we continue to strive for our dreams.

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