No, not fair enough!

DTE 99-100, October 2014

“If women are given the space to participate actively, they can analyse the social, economic, cultural and political problems they experience and come up with recommendations that are clear and strong”

(Poso Women’s Congress Press Release, March 2014)

This statement from the Poso, Sulawesi,  captures the aspiration of women in one region of Indonesia to participate fully in the life of their community and country. They, along with tens of millions of women across the archipelago, face the obstacle of gender injustice in addition to the multiple social, economic, and cultural barriers faced by their communities as a whole.

Challenging gender injustice is not just about empowering women, but recognising the imbalances between the roles society assigns to men and women and the imbalance of power, recognition of rights, prosperity, health, education and opportunity this brings with it.

It isn’t just about Indonesia either, but in a globalised world, gender injustice is globalised too.  For example, a British-based coal mining company (whose board is run mostly by men) invests in a coal-mining project in Kalimantan. It fails to take into account the impact its activities will have on the lives of women in the project area; it doesn’t even have any language about women or gender in its community relations policies; it negotiates the contract with the male-dominated authorities in Indonesia, and its environmental impact assessment ticks its boxes by holding a couple of village meetings attended almost exclusively by men. The coal is extracted by men (who are paid for their labour). Where are the women in all of this? Women in consumer countries benefit from the electricity generated by the coal, but the local women may lose some or all of the following: their lands and livelihoods, their homes, their clean water supply, their health, and the cohesion of their community.

“...gender justice can be defined as the ending of – and if necessary the provision of redress for – inequalities between women and men that result in women’s subordination to men...”

(Anne-Marie Goetz, in Gender Justice, Citizenship and Development, Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and Navsharan Singh Eds, Zubaan 2007)

This newsletter hopes to add to the momentum for tackling gender injustice. Focusing on rights to land and natural resources, we bring together accounts of the deep injustices faced by women in their gender roles, as well as news of how gender injustice is being tackled. We had also hoped to publish stories about how gender injustice affects men, but we found hardly any work that has been done on this – certainly a gap that needs addressing.

We start with an overview, and a run-through of the basic concepts and then make room for just a few of the many, varied voices speaking about gender injustice in Indonesia.  We are deeply grateful to our contributors for sharing their words, time and efforts and hope the readers of our 100th edition, feel inspired to support the campaign for gender justice!