Case Studies of Women’s Collective Action

This study draws on research conducted in 12 villages across Indonesia. Each of the research areas display a significant degree of diversity in terms of their social, politico-economic and institutional contexts. The case studies below describe these varying contexts and provide in-depth, within-case analysis of the processes by which women at the village level, bolstered by the support of civil society organisations (CSOs), have managed to influence the implementation of the Village Law in Indonesia. The diversity of initiatives that village women have introduced or expanded under the Village Law captured in this study, in part, but do not wholly reflect the sectoral focus of those CSOs that have supported these women. The CSOs involved in this study have focused on five key issues that have been of particular concern for women. Those sectoral focus are:

Employment conditions


Bantul district is in Yogyakarta province. Our Bantul case study follows Yasanti’s advocacy for working conditions for home textile workers at the village-collective and institutional levels. They supported the creation of the Creative Mothers Homeworkers Union, with ongoing participation in education and training, and increasing involvement in decision-making. In addition, several regulations have been put in place to protect rights of homeworkers.

Deli Serdang

The district of Deli Serdang/Medan is in North Sumatra. Our Deli Serdang/Medan case study follows the BITRA-supported formation of the Prosperous Homeworkers Union for weavers has effected significant changes at village, district and province levels. A school was founded as well as a credit union to reduce economic exploitation. The main sectoral focus is this study was working conditions.

Social Protection


Bangkalan district is in East Java. This Bangkalan case study examines how women’s groups were formed and how, with support from PEKKA, they worked with villages to improve access to official documentation and brought about the enactment of a 2017 Village Regulation on marriage administration. This village regulation produced major changes by provides certainty in acquiring marriage certificates and other legal identity documents, which are required to process other identity documents, so that women can then access social protection programs.


Gresik district is in East Java. Our Gresik case study follows the formation of one informal Women’s School which directly improved gender relations in the village and increased levels of participation in village-level planning meetings and advocate for greater control over the Village Fund and policy. MAMPU partner, KAPAL Perempuan (The Institute for Women’s Alternative Education) and its local partner KPS2K (Women’s Groups and Sources of Life organisation – Kelompok Perempuan dan Sumber-Sumber Kehidupan) which focus on social protection were involved here.


Pangkajene & Islands (Pangkep) is just off the island of South Sulawesi. Our Pangkep case study‘s main sectoral focus was social protection and follows the formation of an informal Women’s School supported by KAPAL and YKPM. Women formed grassroots groups in each island in the village, under the banner of the informal Women’s School. This raised awareness of gender equality, paved the way to unprecedented collective participation in village decision-making and resulted in successful advocacy for allocation of funds for women’s savings and loans.

North Hulu Sungai

North Hulu Sungai district is in South Kalimantan and the main sectoral focus here was social protection. Our case study in North Hulu Sungai looks at how PEKKA supported women to collectively empower themselves through the formation of a savings and loan group. This initially provided women access to training and loans to earn independent income and later resulted in increased participation in village decision-making and greater influence over how Village Funds are attributed.

Overseas labour migration

Central Lombok

Central Lombok district is in the province of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). Our Central Lombok case study examines the enactment of a Village Regulation on the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers in 2015. Historically, poor conditions and education have made many women targets for rogue brokers. This prompted Migrant CARE and its local partner to support women, who formed the group ‘La Tansa’ to inform, train and advocate for women migrant workers and support new avenues for employment.

Health and nutrition


Cirebon district is in West Java. Our case study in Cirebon follows women’s influence on village policy making after forming a BSA, with support and training from ‘Aisyiyah. They worked to improve women’s reproductive health and nutrition through advocating for the creation and enactment of a Village Regulation on women’s health by forming a local MAMPU–‘Aisyiyah supported Women Farmers Group and creating a ‘nutrition garden’.


Tanggamus district is in the province of Lampung. Our Tanggamus case study follows advocacy efforts of village women for sexual and reproductive health rights. With a local partner, FAKTA-DAMAR, meetings were organised about gender, sexual and reproductive health and to discuss women’s issues. Separate groups were also held for men. Growing awareness and collaboration resulted in cross-group collective action to form a taskforce and service post to tackle sexual and reproductive health, which was then allocated funding from the Village Fund.

Gender-based violence

East Lombok

East Lombok district is also in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). Our East Lombok case study examines the formation of a mixed-gender constituent group to encourage advocacy on issues around gender-based violence. The group provides a space for discussion and establishing links with government and non-government village leaders. It led to policy reform around reporting and handling of domestic violence, and has formal recognition, meaning funding allocation. They made a number of positive impacts, including the establishment of the ‘Balai Balaq’ safe house.

Labuhan Batu

Labuhan Batu district is in North Sumatra. Our Labuhan Batu case study recounts the formation of an SPI group to collectively drive advocacy and support for victims of gender-based violence. SPI Labuhan Batu provided gender equity, paralegal and other training for villagers. The group established a Women’s Care Post and created cross-stakeholder networks which led to the enactment of a Village Regulation on the protection of survivors of violence and fund allocation.

North Central Timor

North Central Timor (Timor Tengah Utara) is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Our case study in North Central Timor examines the creation of mechanisms to report cases of gender-based violence and provide support to victims in a village with aggravating contextual factors. FPL and YABIKU worked with an existing Women Farmers Group, and with their advocacy, two district policies were ratified and a paralegal group was formed, bringing about many positive impacts including greater participation in village politics.