In 2014, Indonesia embarked on an ambitious agenda to devolve some authority for local development to village authorities through the Village Law, with budgets directly channelled to nearly 75,000 villages across the archipelago to implement local-level initiatives. The new Law emphasises the importance of participatory community decision making, poverty reduction and, importantly, gender equity. The changes introduced under the Village Law provide a significant opportunity for women to increasingly influence village governance and development decisions so as to improve their wellbeing.
Covering a range of sectors, places and contexts throughout Indonesia, this research explores if and how women’s collective action in different forms—both at the grassroots level and in more structured advocacy and support for village women from civil society organisations concerned with gender equity—has facilitated changes in the ways power is exercised and decision making operates in rural villages and districts to be more inclusive of women. These are types of change that can have profound impacts on the everyday lives of rural
women in Indonesia.
The research draws from collaborative, in-depth research by the University of Melbourne and Universitas Gadjah Mada across a diverse range of regions from Sumatra, to Java, to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and East and West Nusa Tenggara in nine provinces, 12 districts and 14 villages. We also collaborate with 15 civil society organisation partners in Indonesia focused on gender inclusion and women’s empowerment nationally and subnationally. In collaborating with such organisations, the research has tended to capture in ethnographic detail and comparatively the voices and experiences of more vulnerable rural village women, women who have often experienced multiple- dimensions of poverty.
Through the research we ask:
• In what contexts, to what extent and through what mechanisms local collective action by women has influenced the implementation of the Village Law.
We also aim to:
• Understand how such influence varies across Indonesia,
• Identify what has constrained or enabled such influence, and
• Determine what has been the role for civil society organisations in this process.