Fisherwomen from the Pangkep Women’s School Share their Experiences and Knowledge at the SDGs Annual Conference

28 November 2019
Author: Amron Hamdi

I feel that women should not feel insignificant. If male fishermen can access these subsidy fishermen’s cards, why can’t women fishermen? I said this to the Regent, and eventually, hundreds of women like me were able to obtain their own cards.

Nurlina, a fisherwoman from Sabangko Island, Pangkep Regency, South Sulawesi made the above statement during a session ran by MAMPU Program and two other Australia – Indonesia partnerships, KOMPAK and PRISMA, in the SDGs Annual Conference held by BAPPENAS on 1 October 2019 in Jakarta.

During the conference, which adopted the theme ‘Reaching all Corners of the Sea: Opening Opportunities and Answering the Challenges of Sustainable Development’, MAMPU presented lessons learned from the Women’s School program initiated by KAPAL Perempuan across ten islands of the Pangkep Regency — including Nurlina’s home island of Sabangko Island.

Women’s Schools are initiatives to empower women and strengthen women’s leadership at the grassroots through critical education and community organising. Women’s Schools aim to improve women’s welfare, critical awareness, and participation in development decision making. Women’s Schools have so far been established in 77 villages in 9 regencies and 6 provinces.

“Not all women are born with the same opportunities. Therefore, we have established Women’s Schools along the coast to support women to develop the capacity to voice their needs and interests to gain access to government services and programs, like Nurlina has done. Acceptance and acknowledgement of fisherwomen is extremely important because, with this acknowledgement, these women have the opportunity to access various social services programs, including social protection schemes,” said KAPAL Perempuan Director Misiyah.

Women’s School members in Sabangko Island are involved in decision making at local Development Planning Meetings. The Regional Government’s acknowledgment of fisherwomen has been one of the Women’s School’s proudest achievements. The fisherwomen have been able to obtain subsidy cards and gain access to subsidised fishing boats that were previously only available to men. The Women’s School members were also able to collaborate with local government officials to procure free sea transport facilities for pregnant women, access to female-only ambulances, solar energy, and other public services.