Capacity Building of Young Feminists and Intergenerational Dialogue

Summary of Activity
Jakarta, 18-23 August 2008

As a follow-up and recommendation from the workshop “Reflection & Revitalizing the Women and Young Feminists Movement in Indonesia and Timor Leste” held in Bogor in June 2007, Just Associates South East in collaboration with the National Secretariat of PEKKA has held a four-day program consisting of two main activities; a training of increasing the capacity of Young Feminists and an Inter-Indonesian Women Generation Dialog.

This program was carried out from 19 to 22 August 2008 in Jakarta, with division of time for the training from 19 to 20 August and for the intergeneration dialog in 21 August, and for a workshop of making future strategies, reflection and evaluation in 22 August. The training and workshop were attended by 26 women activists and young feminists from 18 provinces of Indonesia and from Timor Leste; consisting of alumni of young feminist workshop and two new participants from the Secretariat of JASS SEA and alumni of JASS SEA activity in Medan.

The intergeneration dialog that was an inseparable part of this training activity was attended by 20 female activists and senior feminists of women movements from 8 provinces of Indonesia. This dialog was closed with Malam Keakraban (Friendly Night Gathering), which was done to create togetherness among these feminists.

In general this program aimed at creating an arena for collective reflection and learning among the feminists in order that they would be able to collaborate in strengthening themselves and playing their respective roles.

In particular the objectives of this program were:

  • To reflect field experiences the feminists had after more than a year since the young feminists’ meeting in Bogor,
  • To train the participants about strategy, approach and methodology of organizing women in the level of grass root, and
  • To hold an interactive dialog between young and senior feminists and between the participants of different regions.

The program was conducted by JASS-SEA in collaboration with the National Secretariat of PEKKA; with Nani Zulminarni and Dina Lumbatobing in the Steering Committee, and Niken Lestari and Paula Elina in the Organizing Committee.

There were four modules implemented in this program.
Module 1, Reflection from the Field
This module focused on individual reflection of every woman with respect to the “stories from the fields” and on sharing of what had changed either in their personality, relatives, friends or works after attending the workshop held in Bogor. After doing the individual tasks, the participants then made small groups and did group discussion. Every group then presented the results of their group-discussions in a general discussion. And, the results of these presentations were analyzed together using a power analysis called “Power Cube”, which was tested to discover the arena of power and strategies still needed.

Module 2, Community Organizing
This module constituted an effort to develop basic framework for organizing women in the level of grass root and various methods and media of participatory approaches in the organizing process. In addition, this module also focused on general analysis of participatory methods and media – principles, benefits and disadvantage. The materials for the discussions were extracted from the field experiences the participants had gone through. Based on this sharing of experiences, they explored any possible frameworks, basic principles, methods and media to work in the grass root communities. To increase the capacity of community organizers, working method through group assignment was also implemented on this module. In doing so, participants were divided into small groups that were assigned to develop methods and media for their activities with respect to certain issues in the communities.

Module 3, Intergeneration dialog
The dialog focused on young feminists’ understanding about the period of women movements in Indonesia based on the stories told by the participating feminists (1975 to 2008), about the identification of regions (Jakarta, Java, Sumatra, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Papua and Timor Leste) and about the themes or issues they handle (environment, labor, KTP [Identity Card of Citizenship], economy empowerment, education, health, sexuality, religion, politics/law and media/culture). In order to deepen the mapping results, the participants were facilitated to make discussion in small groups concerning several existing issues.

Module 4, Intergeneration Reflection Dialog, Future Strategies, Follow-up Plan, Evaluation and Conclusion.
The reflection dialog made use of young feminists’ positive perspective method about the meaning of seniority and the lesson-learned from dialog process, the course from Workshop in Bogor, and the strategies of women movement. The participants put forward their reflection directly in an open plenary meeting. They put the focus of future planning on what they would do individually and collectively after this workshop. The final evaluation was done in writing with freedom for all participants to write whatever they wanted to say.

In general the entire sequence of this program could run well in accord with what had been planned. Below are some notes concerning these activities.
1. General things
Twelve alumni of Bogor workshop did not attend this follow-up program due to several reasons; they could not attend because they had already quit from their institutions, they were studying, or they were attending other workshops.
In this activity, there had been no gap related to the different regions and issues they were handling. In addition, interaction that was built among the participants had got closer and more sociable. However, we observed that there was a little distance between participants of different groups of age; between those above and below 35 years old.
Learning groups had seriously studied the assignment given at the night before. It could be seen from the results of the discussion, which was published in a morning newsletter they creatively made. The participants really used this arena as a place for intensifying their understanding about analysis framework and their self-strengthening as young feminists.

2. Reflection from the Fields
Most participants said that after participating in the Bogor activity they became more confident and more convinced as parts of women activism and women movements. They also became more confident in making decision for themselves. However, they also said that bargaining should be constantly done in order to achieve a balanced relation of power.
It has suggested some restrictions and values of professionalism or being professional in working. All this time the existing standards of professionalism are still based on the masculine standards.
The reflection of the participants also raised subjects of regeneration and senior domination that were still a concern.

3. Training of Community Organizing
Generally the participants’ understanding about Community Organizing was still very weak; they did not understand the importance of facilitation, participatory approach, and forming of cadres yet. Some also still saw that a cadre is just a part of structural hierarchy of an institution rather than a part of community strengthening, which makes the position of an institution equal to that of people. The participants raised issue concerning how far a community organizer can interfere matters related to the custom and religion in a region of facilitating work, and also whether a community organizer must come from the region (the issue of local versus visiting personnel still becomes subject of lively discussion.

In the training of community organizing, when doing a process of social analysis, they tended to have a dichotomy of social analysis and gender analysis. The participants have been aware that the organizing process can take a long time and usually depart from real and practical problems faced by people. Education for Adult People with various methods and creative media is an important aspect that needs to be developed in the organizing activity. It requires a community-facilitating capability, which most participants had not mastered well.

4. Intergeneration Dialog
Women movement is quite consistent and sustainable. However, although the number of women groups is increasing in entire Indonesia, it is obvious that the movement is still too centralistic in Jakarta.
In every region and period most women movements appeared at the first time within other activities that brought issues around women. They have been initiated by either individuals or groups.
Media have begun to accept issues concerning gender justice and equality. Hence, it is very important to master information technology as a tool for strengthening the movement. After reformation movement in Indonesia from 1998, fundamentalism has appeared to be a new opponent.

Everybody is aware that women movement shall not be implemented in one platform; it is inevitable to have colorful strategies that complement to one another. The important thing is to synchronize the final vision of the women struggle.
From the process of dialog done by Feminist Groups, we have heard directly from the first doers about the progress of women movement as well as their movement contexts. In addition, they also have learned about the character of women leadership.
Young feminists also have been aware that senior feminists are quite consistent with the movement but they do not see transfer of duty from the seniors to their successors.

The content of the dialog was quite critical but incomplete because the local movements were not explored; only about the movements appeared since 1970. In addition, experiences/issues in Eastern part of Indonesia and Timor Leste had not been raised.
The dialog did not really reveal problems in every local region so that they did not find any solution. They also could not find any problem being faced by younger women’s movements.
From the standpoint of methodology, young feminists’ groups criticized that the process was dominated by senior feminists; it tended to go to one direction and dialog failed to persist. As a result, the process only focused on identification of incidents happening each period (year). The movement continued only in the national and international levels. Only big experiences that were shared, while individual experiences were not uncovered. The feminists also noted that in general the analysis did not comply with the context of grass root and did not make any conclusion.

However, young feminist groups felt that the process was quite dynamic because all participants did their roles and had opportunity to consider when to start a movement. Accordingly, the history of women movement can be recorded well and the use of media and methods can help map the trend of the movement in some regions. They also considered many positive things they can learn from their seniors, including how to spread the ideology of feminism, how to be committed and consistent in maintaining the movement, how to learn new things, how to accept criticism from anyone, how to be consistent in the movement and to be eager to enhance their capacity.

Young feminists’ groups have also given some negative records about the dialog progression; for example, some seniors did not implement principles of equality, they were too exclusive. Therefore, they were afraid that it would make more distance between young and senior activists as well as among the different generations, regions and issues.

Based on the results of this program, JASS SEA has made some recommendations as follow:

  1.  To identify strategies that need to be improved, it is important to have sharing of experiences concerning the attempts of organizing as having been done by women groups from various regions. Therefore, knowledge that they have obtained in the training can be implemented directly in the communities they facilitate. .
  2.  Participants are expected to be able to document their field activities, so that they can use the document in the next meetings.
  3.  It is important to develop certain media for organizing community, especially women groups, by exploring local resources and culture.
  4.  It is important to publicize local experiences in order to have equal appreciation from other elements of women movements particularly in the national level.
  5.  As early step to make publication, participants are recommended to use JASS’ blog, or to send their writings to Tanda Baca (one of institutions participating in the training) that will help publicize them and develop a medium of communication among the participants, that is a mailing list, to share their experiences.
  6.  Participants wish there will be following meetings of young feminist groups, with more participants from eastern region like Papua.
  7.  It is important to make more intergeneration dialogs that focus on the reflection of young feminists.
  8.  Senior feminist groups shall make reflection about the course of their movements in order to strengthen and answer the future challenge.
  9.  It is important to document the results of the intergeneration dialog into a book or other kinds of writing publication, which then can contribute to the history of women movement in Indonesia.