Domestic Workers’ School Helps Women Understand Their Rights and Improve Their Skills30 June 2014
To implement weekly domestic workers school, two organisations; Serikat PRT Tunas Mulia (established in 2003) and Kongres Operata Yogyakarta (established in 2009) were accompanied by Rumpun Tjoet Njak Dhien (RTND). This school was initiated by Lita Anggraini, a Jala PRT activist since 1995.
Since integrated with the Protection of Domestic Workers Network/ Jaringan Perlindungan Pekerja Rumah Tangga (JPPRT) Yogyakarta, the weekly Domestic Workers School has more participant. In JPPRT, there is protection for domestic workers to prevent excessive working hours, unpaid salary and the prohibition of joining organisation.
The inclusion of MAMPU Program in June 2014 into the school activities, strengthen the curriculum and make it more structured. The curriculum is organised in accordance with domestic workers needs and focus on the basic problems.
According to Retno Hartati, one of RTND management staff, Domestic Workers School is increasingly popular because of the content of education that is targeted and varied, such as Sunday School participants receive education about reproductive health, how to take care of the elderly, public speaking and advocacy if there is a problem. Occasionally, they also get practical skills, such as cooking and making crafts.
“Anyone can join this Domestic Workers School, free of charge and its main target is female dropouts who are no longer able to continue their education. All nurtured here, if necessary, we also help them looking for job,” said Retno.
Siti Kholifah (20) is one of participant who experiencing changes after joining the weekly school. She was initially shy and spoke as needed but always listened to all the teachers.
Siti also experiences a change in her working life. Siti is working for an employer who has a catering business. Catering work was not her duty, but she often felt uneasy with her friends who still worked, while she had finished her work in the household. Thus, her break time was trimmed because she helped the catering work as well.
Now, Siti already understands that her main duty as domestic workers is doing household work, not the catering. She is able to negotiate with her employer about working time and her rights to obtain a weekly holiday. With good communication, the employer agreed.
Sukini (33) from Wonosari, also experiences similar situation with Siti. Sukini, who is a freelance domestic worker and sell children’s toys at home, now has a better understanding of her rights as domestic worker and gains a lot of knowledge from the school.
“At first, my salary was only IDR 750,000, but after negotiating with my employer, my salary increased into IDR 1,000,000. Thanks to the teacher who teach me good communication skill, my employer understood what I said. I am very grateful to the Domestic Workers School,” said Sukini.
Dyah Yuvita Retnani, one of the management staff and companion in RTND, mentioned that Serikat PRT Tunas Mulia and Kongres Operata Yogyakarta who work in Yogyakarta area, do a regeneration program by forming 8 communities led by 4 Community Leaders. Yuvita said, to reveal domestic workers’ problem was not easy. But with the formation of 8 communities, it is expected that domestic workers who have difficulties can make a complaint or counseling through Community Leader in each region.
“In this case, MAMPU program is very helpful, because the frequency of meetings and discussions become more sustainable by presenting competent resource persons, so that the process of understanding related to the domestic workers rights is conveyed properly,” said Yuvita.
Domestic workers who have been trained, will provide the material to their friends who have not been present at the school. There are also domestic workers who have more time, dedicated themselves to help RTND administrators by becoming a companion and Supporting System (SS) at the weekly Domestic Workers School.
Sargini (33) from Gunungkidul and Jumiyem (40) from Bantul, initially were participants of the school and they have mastered the material on Gender, women leadership, Reproductive Health, Human Rights and Paralegal. They become the companion of domestic workers who have problems. They will usually handle simple cases by themselves. But if it tends to be more serious, they will report to RTND.
Sargini and Jumiyem are even more responsible to their duties in RTND, “For the students who asked for data about domestic workers who experienced sexual violence, we enforced them to go to the field and see the condition directly. So, they cannot ask for the data only,” said Sargini.
Yuvita says, ”With the MAMPU program, the Domestic Workers School participants get an easier understanding related to their rights, both at work and daily life. They find a comfortable place to share their problems, because the companion in the community also have experienced violence both at work and household, so the empathy can be felt by both sides.”