Indonesia - 30 October, 2023
What is to choose between rubber and oil palm seeds? Or between fruit and palm oil? Then if husband and wife have different choices, whose choice will be taken? These were among a number of questions asked by Elok Ponco Mulyoutami, gender specialist at Tropenbos Indonesia (TI) who conducted a study related to gender inclusivity towards climate-smart practices implemented in TI’s landscape from 18-26 August 2023. This study involved around 80 respondents from a number of villages in Pawan Pesaguan sub-landscape and Simpang Dua sub-landscape, Ketapang, West Kalimantan.
Through a series of guided group discussions (FGD) held in four clusters, two clusters in Matan Hilir Selatan District and two others in Simpang Dua District, Elok explored the lessons learned from women's involvement in natural resource management, including through various activities carried out by Tropenbos Indonesia under Working Landscape (WL) Programme. This study is intended to explore the extent to which women and youth can influence decision making in forest and natural resource management, how they are involved in multi-stakeholder processes, and how the existing policies provide support for these. The number of female and male participants in the FGD was balanced so that male and female perspectives could be equally represented.
The results of the FGD show that even though women have been involved in various natural resource management activities in their villages, they still face a number of challenges. The patriarchal culture of society turns many women to become more passive. Instead of being leaders, women’s voice is often less heard, and in some places, they don't even get the chance to speak out. This is especially found in communities that are still strongly influenced by customs which put only men in the position of decision makers.
However, a number of villages seem to have provided greater space for women, as can be seen from the FGD in cluster 2 Sungai Bakau, where some women have been involved and play an active role in village government. Village residents even encouraged a woman to become the hamlet head (kadus), and to run as the village representative in a meeting at district level. Women's representation is also visible in activities related to improving livelihoods, where women actively seek opportunities to increase family’s economic income.
Regarding forest and land monitoring, many women are still not involved in activities that are considered to be the domain of men, such as in forest and land fire patrols (karhutla). Apart from being considered high risk, the women themselves also seem to be less interested. However, there is a woman in Sungai Besar Village who is involved in forest fire prevention patrol activities, and is even an active member of the patrol team.
In general, men are starting to become aware and agree for women to be involved in various activities outside their home. It is an important step because when faced with differences in views, many women still choose to follow men's opinions. Men's encouragement also plays a big role in women's willingness to come forward and get involved.
Meanwhile, in cluster 4 in Simpang Dua - Gema Village and Mekar Raya Village - a number of programs done in these villages have also involved women, such as clean water programs, physical development programs and assistance in preparing RPJMDes, area mapping, and reforestation of protection forests. The existence of the Women's Savings and Loans program from PNPM that once existed has also been very beneficial to help running businesses managed by women, although unfortunately this program no longer exists.
Many women in Gema and Mekar Raya villages are housewives and rely on their husbands' income to meet their family's needs, although they still help tapping rubber in their rubber plantations. They admitted that they were inspired to be more independent and have bigger role in forest management and village decision making after attending several capacity improvement training organized by TI. "Since Tropenbos Indonesia came, these women started to become more enthusiastic about farming, in the horticulture sector, in the coffee sector, in the fruit sector, it's extraordinary," said Atep, a farmer in Mekar Raya Village. After training in implementing good agricultural practices through farmer field schools, Atep's garden was one of the most visited for capacity building discussions related to planting.
Apart from the village level, FGDs were also carried out with stakeholders at the district level, which was attended by a number of government institutions and KPH. According to one participant from the Department of Agriculture, currently there is no longer any distinction between types of work based on gender. In 2015, a rule was implemented where members of women farmer groups had to be women, but now, there is no longer any distinction between women and men. "This change is from the central government, so we don't know what is behind this change. The operational guidelines (implementation instructions) and juknis (technical instructions) are determined by the central government. "There is no space to provide input from the regions," said one participant.
Meanwhile, KPH at the field level does not raise the topic of gender equality in organizational structures and processes, but gender policies at the national level already exist in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Bappeda also has various gender-related policies, but there is no special team to implement them in the field.
According to Donatus Rantan, as chairman of the stakeholders' forum in Ketapang, understanding gender must be included in policies, in budgets, in proof that gender is included in activities. "Don't let the budget for gender be used for purposes other than gender. Gender mainstreaming has always existed, but without a strong legal umbrella, it will be difficult to encourage its implementation. "For this reason, hopefully there will be a strong legal umbrella regarding gender," he said.
It seems that limited implementation still occurs at district level even though provincial gender-related policies and strategies already exist. The policy of gender equality that has become the subject of discussion is still limited to the level of gender equality in staffing issue in institutions. Apart from the limited understanding, almost all institutions do not have specific unit or organization yet that promote gender equality, although several institutions have some programs that provide special attention to women, such as the Social Service and Distanakbun.