Improving access to services for the most vulnerable in Indonesia Stories

20 April, 2021

Globally, women’s organizations and movements for social change have been at the forefront of advancing gender equality and human rights through advocating for policies and laws that protect the rights of the most vulnerable; transforming social attitudes and norms that perpetuate inequality; providing lifesaving services to the most vulnerable and promoting sustainable development, peace, and security.

Cowater International has been working alongside such organizations to address a wide range of global development challenges. One example is the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (MAMPU) Program (2012-2020), which aimed to improve the access of poor women in Indonesia to essential government services and programs.

MAMPU was a joint initiative between the Government of Australia and the Government of Indonesia. Funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), MAMPU supported the Government of Indonesia in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by working with 13 women’s and gender interested organizations at the national level, and over 100 organizations at the local level in 27 provinces and 1,137 villages across Indonesia. Specifically, the Program facilitated collective action and collaboration between the women’s movement and the government to advance a locally driven, shared agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Beneficiaries of MAMPU Project in Flores Timur and Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara

Over recent decades, Indonesia has made significant efforts to advance gender equality. Indonesia’s constitution guarantees gender equality, and the country has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In 2004, the Government of Indonesia established a quota system to ensure that at least 30 percent of candidates in political parties are women. Following the 2017 presidential election, Indonesia saw eight female ministers appointed to cabinet – the highest number of women in the country’s history. However, women continue to face barriers to taking part in and benefitting from the country’s social, economic, and political opportunities. For example, despite the quota, the proportion of women parliamentarians remains low, and at the village level 40 percent of villages have no female representative in the Village Consultative Council (BPD). According to 2017 data from the Indonesian Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, the average school enrolment period for girls is only 7.5 years (6.9 years in rural areas) compared to 8.4 years for boys, and at 52 percent, female labour market participation falls well below that of men at 82 percent. Around one in three Indonesian women experience physical and sexual violence, and while concerted efforts to fight child marriage at a national scale have been promising, girls continue to be forced into marriage. These inequalities arise through a complex interplay of socio-economic and political factors, including constraints on resources and the policy environment, local politics, and rising forces of social intolerance.

To address these inequalities, the MAMPU Program provided flexible and strategic support to partner civil society organizations (CSOs) through grants, including funding for local women’s organizations to ensure their sustainability, alongside resources to develop, test, and demonstrate solutions to complex service delivery problems. A number of service delivery models have been developed and deployed to help poor women access government social protection programs; assist migrant workers to assert their rights; and integrate human rights and gender in the handling of GBV cases. Such models include the Mobile Integrated Service Clinic (KLIK-PEKKA) led by the Foundation for Empowering Female Heads of Households (PEKKA); the Women’s School (Sekolah Perempuan) led by the Institute for Women’s Alternative Education (KAPAL Perempuan); the Village that Cares for Migrant Workers (DESBUMI) led by Migrant CARE, their network of local CSOs and village governments; and the Integrated System for Criminal Justice (SPPT-PKKTP) led by the National Commission of  Violence Against Women (KOMNAS Perempuan) and the Forum of Service Providers for Women Victims of Violence/Women’s Crisis Centres (FPL).

Erlina Mardiana – formerly a migrant worker to Saudi Arabia – is now the owner of a grocery store and an advocate for migrant workers’ rights

These service models have provided innovative solutions for local governments and communities on how to improve access to services for hard to reach and vulnerable populations and contributed to deepening the level of trust and collaboration between MAMPU partners and local stakeholders.

MAMPU’s strategic support in creating the favourable conditions for diverse actors to come together and facilitate a sustained policy engagement between civil society and government led to significant reforms at the village, district, and national levels. Women’s active involvement in village affairs has resulted in 315 relevant policy decisions by village governments in 72 districts, including measures to tackle child marriage. The Program supported over 300 policy decisions in 80 districts to enhance social protection for vulnerable workers, promote the implementation of the SDGs, strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights, address the impacts of customary law (adat), and support services for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

At the national level, MAMPU contributed to improving protections for migrant workers, many of whom are women employed in the informal sector and under precarious conditions. The Government of Indonesia’s DESMIGRATIF initiative, launched in 2016, and the National Law on the Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families (PPMI law), passed in 2017, have collectively strengthened service delivery for migrant workers. By building coalitions across different interest groups and long-term advocacy, MAMPU partners in Indonesia contributed to raising the legal age of marriage for girls from 16 to 19, bringing it in line with that of boys while advancing national legislation to address sexual violence.  Overall, MAMPU has directly assisted over 170,000 women and men to gain access to government services. Through its policy support and promotion of women’s direct participation in service provision, the Program has helped improve access to and uptake of services for over 590,000 women and men accessing health insurance in Sukabumi district, West Java and 1.3 million women living in villages where MAMPU operated.

The establishment of key policies and regulations, including higher budget allocations for service provision to vulnerable groups, will have profound, long-term impacts on reducing poverty, creating better economic opportunities and advancing gender equality. By supporting Indonesia’s vibrant women’s movement, MAMPU has helped to mobilize resources and put in place the foundations that will be essential in building women’s voices and collective influence in Indonesia.

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