Demi Setara, or ‘For Equality’ in Bahasa Indonesia, presents research projects and other initiatives in Indonesia and elsewhere that seek to understand the social and politico-economic dimensions of inequality and how these are addressed.
The research found that no matter what the sectoral focus of village women and civil society organisations, women have had influence on decision making and the implementation of the Village Law. At the same time, the speed with which women have grown their agency to exercise influence and affect change was also influenced by the sensitivity of the sector. The research found that behavioural change tended to be slowest in sectors addressing highly sensitive issues such as reducing violence against women, women’s reproductive health, and tackling child marriage. Changing norms associated with cultural taboos was a long-term agenda that might be supported by Village Regulations after a significant period of trust building, women’s collective action, and service support, but required a longer timeline to produce behavioural changes.
Improving Working Conditions
Women have often faced challenges due to homeworker industries not being formally recognised as employment. Without formal recognition, many women experience unfair employment practices, such as not being provided with the materials necessary to carry out work, and low standards of workplace health and safety. Women homeworkers also face discrimination, precarious livelihoods, and often with below subsistence incomes. They are also not well captured in social protection initiatives. These ‘homeworkers’ are often located in peri-urban and urban precincts (kelurahan) but also sometimes in villages, the latter of which fall within the authority of the Village Law.
This research included two sectoral case studies on CSOs supporting women improve their work conditions, in particular homeworkers engaged in cottage industry livelihoods that often form a part of the supply chain of larger industries or supply to smaller enterprises. In Bantul district, Yogyakarta Province, Yasanti (the Annisa Swasti Foundation) has helped homeworkers to unionise and has worked with these women’s groups to successfully advocate to village and district authorities for formal recognition of these unions through regulations. In Deli Serdang, North Sumatra Province, BITRA(Indonesian Foundation for Rural Capacity Building) helped village women to establish women’s homeworker unions so that homeworkers could connect to other village union groups and collectively advocate for their rights, including provincial government recognition of their right to health insurance under the national scheme BPJS.
Explore the case studies in Bantul district and Deli Serdang district to trace the pathways of change through which women, with CSO support, have strategically influenced change in policies, union establishment, union membership and union registration to raise awareness about and recognition for homeworker rights.
Read also two life journeys of women who have led homeworker groups and advocacy efforts. In Deli Serdang, North Sumatra Province, Mia, a member of the Prosperous Homeworkers Union (SPR Sejahtera) has represented women homeworkers and gained confidence in dealing with government officials. Widyati, in Bantul district, Yogyakarta Province, is a member of the Creative Mothers group and describes how she has learned about labour rights, safe working conditions and gender enabled business expansion and, in 2019, began representing the group in the formulation of the village’s mid-term development plan.
Improving Access to Social Protection Programs
Accessing health, education, and other social protection programs tended to be a particular challenge in more isolated rural areas in Indonesia. Citizen legibility—obtained through possessing appropriate birth and marriage certificates, family cards, identity cards and other documents recognised by the state, are necessary to be able to access those government support. Accessing such documents was an obstacle for many villagers, particularly the poorest of the poor and female-headed families. Women in particular tended to have limited ability to claim their civil rights due to lacking knowledge of government administrative processes and the resources and geographic proximity needed to access documentation services.
Advocating for village support for fulfilling women’s civil rights to social protection initiatives is a key focus in four of our research areas where organisations such as PEKKA (The Female-Headed Families Empowerment Foundation) as well as Institut KAPAL Perempuan (The Institute for Women’s Alternative Education) and its subnational partners, KPS2K and YKPM, have focused support for village women: in the Bangkalan and Gresik research villages in East Java Province, in the Pangkajene and Islands (Pangkep) research village in South Sulawesi Province, and in the North Hulu Sungai research village in South Kalimantan Province.
Read also about the life journeys of eight women from these villages in driving changes and initiatives. In Bangkalan and North Hulu Sungai, Ati, Mita, Hj. Aminah and Hj. Farah were actively involved in enhancing women’s access to vital documents, including birth and marriage certificates, through PEKKA’s Village Consultation and Information Service Clinics. In Gresik, Lastri and Lasinem helped women access the National Health Insurance Scheme (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial, BPJS). Meanwhile, in the Pangkajene islands, Laila and Julianti applied the advocacy skills they learned through participation in the Women’s School group—supported by KAPAL Perempuan—to successfully campaign for solar-powered electrification and access to clean water.
Overseas Labour Migration
Protection for Migrant Workers
The Central Lombok District in West Nusa Tenggara Province is a key region for sending male and female migrant workers overseas, particularly to Malaysia and to countries in the Middle East. In rural villages such as in the research area, some of the poorest men and women in these villages were vulnerable to recruitment by middle-men. These middle-men tend use illicit channels to facilitate migrant worker departures overseas, and organise contracts that pay lower wages than contracts for migrant workers departing via formal channels. Migrant workers departing via illicit channels lack the stronger protections provided by formal registration, both in terms of wage levels and the option of seeking government support if they experience difficulties while overseas.
Our case study illustrates how the key focus of advocacy and collective action of villagers in this region, with the support of the CSOs, is on village-level and district-level assistance for migrant workers. To do so, Migrant CARE and its local partner the Panca Karsa Association (PPK) collaborated with villagers and the village government to form a village-based service provision model for migrant workers, the DESBUMI—Villages that Care for Migrant Workers—and established a new women’s group of former migrant workers called La Tansa in Central Lombok research village. As well as providing information for migrant workers, the La Tansa women’s group, with the support of PPK, advocated for new village policies, and provided input into draft regulations, which ultimately resulted in the enactment of Village Regulation No. 4, 2015 on the Protection of Overseas Indonesian Migrant Workers from Villages in Central Lombok. The La Tansa group also provides a space for women to strengthen networks, friendships, and support from other women to advocate for the protection of migrant workers in Central Lombok, as well as to help strengthen their economic capacities.
Read more about the life journeys of women from the research village, Gita and Nisa, and their work to promote safe migration and support to former migrant workers and their families in Central Lombok. Gita’s story shows how involvement in participatory data collection and policy advocacy and change led her to have the self-belief and assurance to pursue her teaching career in a disadvantaged community. Nisa’s journey begins by describing her experiences as an overseas migrant worker in Saudi Arabia and her financial challenges after returning to Lombok, both of which led to the creation of the La Tansa group for ex-migrant worker women who support each other and have collectively developed livelihood skills.
Health and Nutrition
Improving Women’s Health and Nutrition
In many regions in rural Indonesia covered in this research, there was limited knowledge of women’s reproductive health, including issues such as understanding of the importance of early identification of cancer risks (through cervical cancer screening), sexual health, and many other health issues. The burden for family health also tends to fall on women who are often primary care givers for children and the elderly. Improving such knowledge is a challenge in regions where sharing knowledge on sexual and reproductive health encounters strong cultural taboos.
Improving women’s health and nutrition was the primary sectoral focus in two research sites: Cirebon District, West Java Province, and Tanggamus District, Lampung Province in Sumatra. In West Java, the mass women’s organisation ‘Aisyiyah supported village women to form village-based women’s groups called Balai Sakinah ‘Aisyiyah (BSA). Through these groups, women have increased their understanding of reproductive health, especially cervical and breast cancer and supported community health clinics (Puskesmas) to respond to reproductive health conditions. In Lampung, The DAMAR Women’s Advocacy Institute – Lembaga Advokasi Perempuan, as a part of PERMAMPU (Consortium of Women’s Organisations in Sumatra), sought to respond to a widespread lack of understanding of women’s reproductive rights by organising gender awareness classes for women, men and teenagers. This greater awareness and growing collaboration between groups and networks of leaders produced a collective movement to handle cases of violence against women and children.
Explore our case studies in Cirebon and Tanggamus to trace the pathways of changes through which women have exerted their influence on village policy making through forming groups and networks to initiative to improve nutrition by establishing a ‘nutrition garden’ and a taskforce and service post to respond to domestic violence.
Read also four life journeys of women who led these initiatives and bolstered their leadership skills. As Balai Sakinah ‘Aisyiyah members and reproductive health cadres, Hatini and Srikandi in Cirebon, West Java Province, have expanded their involvement in community healthcare from members of the PKK and Posyandu to leaders in responding to women’s needs and socialising the importance of early detection for cancers. In Tanggamus, Lampung Province, Sulis and Mariana participated in, and now are leaders of, FAKTA-DAMAR’s gender mainstreaming classes. Their stories demonstrate how women put into action new understandings of gender equality and health rights in their own lives and sought to teach others.
Below is a video about a research village in which the sectoral focus area was health and nutrition
Reducing Violence against Women
Gender-based violence, and in particular domestic violence, is not an issue widely and publicly discussed in rural Indonesia. There were over 430,000 reported cases of such violence in 2019, although the rate is likely higher when unreported cases are taken into account. Women’s efforts to build broad support from the public and the political leadership to prevent such violence have been constrained by social norms in some areas, which hold that matters within the home should not be publicly discussed and that a woman’s role is to serve her husband.
Despite these complex challenges, village women, with the support of civil society organisations, are creating change to reduce rates of gender-based violence and provide support and services for women and children victims of violence throughout Indonesia. Gender-based violence was the sectoral focus of work in three research sites where CSOs supported village women: FPL (Forum for Service Providers) and its consortium partners SPI (Independent Women’s Union) in Labuhan Batu District in North Sumatra Province, and YABIKU (the Village Women’s Care Foundation) North Central Timor District in East Nusa Tenggara Province , and BaKTI (The Eastern Indonesia Knowledge Exchange Foundation) in East Lombok District in West Nusa Tenggara Province. Reducing gender-based violence was also the joint focus of village women’s initiatives and advocacy in Tanggamus District in Lampung Province, Sumatra described here under the section Improving Women’s Health and Nutrition.
Explore our case studies in Labuhan Batu, North Central Timor, and East Lombok to trace the pathways of change through which women have contributed to policy reform around the reporting and handling of domestic violence, led the establishment of safe houses, provided paralegal support to victims of violence, and successfully advocated for the enactment of village regulations to protect survivors of violence.
Read also five life journeys of women who have driven advocacy and initiatives. In Labuhan Batu, Tari has represented the Independent Women’s Union (SPI) at village meetings and was integral to the drafting and implementation of a 2018 Village Regulation on the Protection of Women and Children. In East Lombok, through the Constituent Group, Laeli and Husnul have worked to provide paralegal support to victim-survivors of domestic violence and have successfully advocated for village funding be allocated to improving health services. In North Central Timor, Veronika has also worked in providing paralegal assistance. Yohana, the founder of FPL consortium partner YABIKU served as a DPRD representative from 2014 – 2019, during which two regulations on the protection of women and children were successfully formulated by a coalition of organisations and were ratified as district regulations.