Empowering Women

Dokumentasi: Sonya Hellen Sinombor

“Misiyah has proven that when women are equipped with knowledge of gender equality and reproductive health, change can occur.”

5 Januari 2021

Link KOMPAS: Empowering Women

Women at the grassroots are often considered powerless, poorly educated and belittled, and their voices are often not taken into account in various decision-making processes in society. However, for Misiyah (53), this view can be changed.

Through the Institute for Women’s Alternative Education (KAPAL Perempuan), which she co-founded and is now leading, Misiyah has proven that when women are equipped with knowledge of gender equality and reproductive health, change can occur. Not only rising from adversity and leaving the cycle of domestic violence, thousands of women in remote areas are now empowered, independent and able to think critically.

“They dare to make changes in their household, negotiate on the division of labor and decision-making in the family. They also work in the community, are skilled at building data and have succeeded in influencing local government policies, and their access has increased, especially the fulfillment of the right to social protection,” said the woman who is familiarly called the Mission, in Jakarta, Saturday (2/1/2021).

Misiyah and the KAPAL Perempuan team initiated the Nusantara Women’s School (formerly the Women’s School) in 24 villages in 9 districts in the Special Capital Region Jakarta, West Sumatra, East Java, South Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), and West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). Currently, more than 6,000 women at the grassroots have joined the program.

They monitor development in their respective areas and also provide data on poverty to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of the poor, especially women. In addition to being replicated by a number of local governments, such as in NTB, the Women’s School program has also produced alumni who have succeeded in including various initiatives around women’s issues in development planning deliberations (musrenbang) at the regional level.

They also dare to take the risk of campaigning for sensitive issues, such as eliminating female circumcision and monitoring and advocating for increased public access to the National Health Insurance (JKN).

Women’s movement

According to the mission, KAPAL Perempuan, which was established on March 8, 2000 to coincide with International Women’s Day, exists to build a women’s and social movement to achieve social justice, gender equality and peace.

In December 2018, Misiyah received the Soetandyo Award from Airlangga University, Surabaya. “For me, this is a strong message so that I will remain firm and work hard to maintain a diverse Indonesia,” said Misiyah.

In 2019, Misiyah and her team’s hard work received another form of appreciation. KAPAL Perempuan received an award as a civil society organization with achievements in empowering women from the Home Ministry.

For Misiyah, this award is very meaningful because it encourages her and women in general not to remain silent but to fight for human rights and show support to minority and marginalized groups.

“For me, this is a strong message so that I will remain firm and work hard to maintain a diverse Indonesia.”

“Therefore, knowledge about women must become power to realize social justice and gender justice for all. The critical education model is very important in the midst of the state of society, which is currently in the vortex of global extremism and the increasingly strong politicization of identity,” said the wife of Wahyu Susilo and mother from Cesia.

Social worker

For Misiyah, working in a non-governmental organization with various women’s struggles at the grassroots level has become her way of life. The leadership spirit she got since she was active in the Girl Scouts has encouraged her to become a social worker and activist in the world of education.

When she graduated from college, Misiyah enrolled in the development driver undergraduate program. She also became a teacher in several places until she finally met female activist and politician Eva Kusuma Sundari. Eva was the one who invited her to participate in training on gender issues, which brought Misiyah an active role in the East Network Gender Working Group.

In late 1995, Misiyah joined Solidaritas Perempuan (Women Solidarity). In 2000, Misiyah together with Yanti Muchtar, Veronica Indriani, Wahyu Susilo, and Viany Yuanita founded KAPAL Perempuan. At that time, they aimed to provide alternative education strategies to build critical thinking for realizing a gender-just and pluralist society.

In KAPAL Perempuan, Misiyah found all of her dreams, even though the journey was not easy. The toughest challenges were experienced by Misiyah and her friends during the New Order era, when their office was often terrorized by the army. In fact, the two founders of KAPAL Perempuan were arrested by the authorities. After the New Order, terrorism actions were continued by groups acting on behalf of certain identities by giving various threats.

In the midst of these challenges, Misiyah persisted. When Yanti Muchtar died in 2015, Misiyah continued the journey of KAPAL Perempuan and has until now. Even though a lot has been accomplished, Misiyah still feels that there is still a lot of work to be done, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“Some of the progress regressed back to the start. Economic shocks and confusion at this new way of life resulted in women being used as a foundation to bear the burdens in the family. Her work now is how to strengthen women so that they can survive and at the same time support their burdens. This can only be done if there is awareness of gender equality from within the family and society as well as the government,” said the Mission.

Misiyah is also determined to build broader cooperation based on the movement’s work foundation, not just a program. In addition, she also wants to increase the number of women leaders, especially young people, who are willing to pursue and devote themselves to the women’s movement.

Place, DOB: Jember, 18 August 1967

– Bachelor’s Degree from Universitas Jember
– Master’s Degree from Universitas Indonesia

Organization: Director of KAPAL Perempuan for the period 2012-present

This article was translated by Stella Kusumawardhani.

Versi cetak artikel ini terbit di harian KOMPAS edisi 5 Januari 2021 di halaman 16 dengan judul “Mencetak Perempuan Berdaya” .

Link: https://epaper.kompas.id/pdf/show/20210105?page=16&utm_source=hal_baca&utm_medium=banner_epaper&utm_campaign=artikel_epaper

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