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