Women’s Empowerment Minister joins MAMPU Partners to Celebrate Kartini Day with a Discussion on the Impact of COVID-19

23 June 2020
Author: Amron Hamdi

On 21 April, KAPAL Perempuan Institute held a discussion with the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, I Gusti
Ayu Bintang Darmawati to commemorate Kartini Day. The discussion, which was attended by women from various backgrounds, aimed to increase the use of gender perspective in analysing and handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the event, representatives of six organisations, five of which are MAMPU partners, talked about strategies for responding to the virus that have been pioneered by women heads of households, farmers, plantation workers, women with disabilities, informal workers, migrant workers and more. In attendance were members of Women’s Schools supported by KAPAL Perempuan in various regions, the Indonesian Women’s Coalition (KPI), Kalyanamitra, PEKKA, HAPSARI, and Migrant Care.

Around 150 participants took part in the discussion and discussed various experiences of grassroots women facing the COVID-19 outbreak. Nani (PEKKA) revealed that women head of households faced more difficulties in dealing with a pandemic because they had to face it on their own without psychological support from regular group meetings.

Participants often discussed economic difficulties. Saraiyah from the Lombok Women’s School talked about rising domestic violence during the pandemic due to economic factors, and Ros from the Pangkajene and Islands Women’s School talked about the low price of seafood which meant that women in the seafood industry could
not make ends meet. Meanwhile, Lely from HAPSARI talked about the emergence of gender-based sexual cyber violence during the study from home period.

Participants talked about women’s creative responses to the pandemic. These responses include encouraging village governments to form COVID-19 response teams, using village budget allocations for pandemic countermeasures, preparing food storage to ensure food security, starting online classes to spread information about the crisis, and participating in local development planning meetings to ensure women’s and children’s needs are met.

Darmawati responded positively to women’s experiences and initiatives. She talked about her collaboration with the Cooperatives and SMEs Ministry, Villages Ministry, Social Affairs Ministry, and the National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB). The Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry has become a part of the National COVID-19 Task Force to ensure response to the disaster is gender-responsive.
Darmawati said she was sure that women would never give up in the face of COVID-19 and that women were taking an active role in development, working together in strength and unity.