Dr Rachael Diprose1
1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
The introduction of Indonesia’s new Village Law has had profound implications for village governance and local power dynamics. Questions remain as to if and how women are benefiting from these changes, and the role that civil society organisations play in influencing the Law’s implementation. This paper explores how the strategic actions and grassroots initiatives undertaken by civil society organisations concerned with gender equality and women’s empowerment might influence contemporary village governance so as to have benefits for women. Drawing on empirical research from a diverse range of Indonesian villages, it investigates the mechanisms by which such initiatives – particularly those that support women’s collective action – interact with and influence village and district power dynamics, and if and how this might give voice to village women. It also explores the conditions that constrain or enable women’s collective action and the pathways by which civil society initiatives have helped shift social norms and produce material benefits for women in some cases. The paper provides important insights into how women’s empowerment initiatives might influence village dynamics so as to give greater voice and benefit to some of Indonesia’s poorest women under the new decentralised authority granted to more than 74,000 villages.
Rachael Diprose is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies and the SSPS Senior Lecturer in Indonesian Studies. Her research in Indonesia, Southeast Asia and West Africa has focussed on the multidisciplinary themes of state building, conflict transformation, multi-level governance and political order, natural resource management, inequalities, gender and development.