Analysing women’s problems through FPAR

Analysing women’s problems through FPAR

Indonesia - 14 November, 2023

In Kenanga Village, Simpang Hulu Sub-District, Ketapang District, West Kalimantan, almost 13,000 ha of the village area is under the status of cultivation rights (HGU). The village people actually have no ownership over its forest, land, and residential areas. Whereas in fact, they have lived and settled in this area since their ancestors’ era, managing tembawang and guarding forest using local wisdom, and closely maintaining inherited traditional customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Almost the entire Kenanga community, including women, still rely on forest and tembawang as sources of livelihoods and take daily necessities such as medicine, woods (bajaka, pasak bumi, sarang semut, etc.), jengkol, fruits, including materials for ritual tradition.

Most women in Kenanga have weaving skills. They use various woven products for daily needs. So far, they get the raw materials for weaving from forest, such as rattan, bamboo and bemban. "If the company's HGU area is built, then what about us?" said Dissri Prigitta, Kenanga Village FPAR facilitator. Not only will they lose the source of livelihoods, they will also lose water source and traditional management areas that they have guarded and managed for generations. Apart from losing management rights over tembawang which have been inherited from generation to generation, they could also lose sacred forests which have been traditional spiritual areas, springs which are sources of drinking water, as well as various other natural resources in the village, including waterfall which they want to develop as a tourist destination.

This fact emerged in the session of identifying problems faced by indigenous people and local community in the FPAR workshop in Pontianak, West Kalimantan which was held between 11 and 15 November 2023. This event is part of the FPAR series which started with ToT training in October 2022, and followed by FPAR training at site level from November 2022 to August 2023. During this period, FPAR activities have reached around 150 women at site level from 7 GLA-TI model villages in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. This event was facilitated by representatives from the Indonesia Gender Team (IGT) GLA 2.0 Program, which consists of three institutions, i.e., Aksi! For Social and Ecological Justice, Yakkum for Emergency Unit, and Solidaritas Perempuan (SP).

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On this occasion, participants were invited to dig deeper into the issues of injustice faced by indigenous women/local community women at the site level, both the problems faced by society in general and the problems faced as women. Next, they were invited to think about solutions to these problems. IGT guides these women to be able to identify and formulate the problems they face so that they are open and aware of the gravity of the problems, and are able to think of ways to solve them. "So, it's not IGT that provides the solution, but the solution comes from the women themselves," said Risma Umar, IGT representative from Aksi!

In addition to identifying and thinking about solutions to problems in forest and natural resource governance, FPAR participants were invited to examine further power relations between stakeholders of their villages which might become the hindering figures or the other way around, the supporting figures towards their vision of transformative change. They also discussed the formulated road map of changes expected for their respective villages, and made a schedule of action plan activities. Most of the participants were enthusiastic to encourage the adoption of FPAR by their villages so that more women at the grass-root level can be reached to also experience transformational changes to unleash their potentials.

After taking part in FPAR, the women in Kenanga realized that they faced a possible threat of exploitation from companies holding the HGU, i.e., HTI companies and bauxite mines. Apart from that, another threat comes from illegal gold mining activities which also cause environmental damage to their area. This understanding makes them take steps to reject company activities that can threaten their forests and customary management areas. "We don't want to lose access to our forest and traditional territory," said Dissri.

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Unfair control over living space, including over water, land, forests and various other resources means that indigenous people and women do not have the rights to govern their areas. Women also face minimal access to control and to make decision making over forest and natural resource management where women can barely have a voice or even if they do, their voices are not listened. This loss of sovereignty over their living space makes FPAR women realize that they must fight to defend their living space and gain recognition for their forests, land and customary areas/traditional territories.

Currently, one of the efforts of the Kenanga Village community including women is to fight for their rights over their customary/traditional management area by registering it as ICCA. These areas include Tolok Pote Old Cemetery, Sogok Old Cemetery, Malela Pota waterfall, and 4 tembawang locations, which cover a total area of around 48 ha.

Dissri and the FPAR women in Kenanga also formed a woven craft group called " Odop Baukir" and a woven craft group of young people called "Yoh Odop Ngonyam" ("Come on, let's weave") which produce woven products in the form of tissue boxes, bags and souvenirs based on received orders. Apart from increasing income, the formation of this weaving group, according to Dissri, is also an effort to maintain the typical Dayak Komi weaving culture which is an ancestral heritage. By maintaining the culture and tradition of weaving, the community will also be more enthusiastic about protecting the forest which is the source place of raw materials for weaving.

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It’s not only Kenanga which experienced problems related to HGU; many women from other villages also experienced similar problems related to the dominance and strong influence of investments that received government legitimacy through the permits granted. On the other hand, having only limited knowledge of the situation, village people are often unaware of the threats they face. Not to mention the impact of company activities which cause environmental problems and pollute water sources normally accessed by women, such as in Muara Jekak Village where bauxite mine’s activity in the neighbourhood village has polluted the village’s river. Another problem is related to the strong influence of patriarchal culture and customary system which cause women to have almost no space in decision making or even to simply speak out or express opinions, for example regarding forest management/land conversion.