Visit of UN WOMEN in Gunungkidul Regency

Written by  Wednesday, 02 May 2018 11:22

On Thursday the 25th of the January, UN WOMEN visited Gunungkidul district with the intention of observing the Men Care Plus program, facilitated by Rifka Annisa. Various nations represented UN WOMEN at the visit including Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Egypt. The original meeting was held at the Office of the Regional Secretariat of Gunungkidul, attending the meeting were representatives from Gunungkidul, several local government agencies in Gunungkidul, and Rifka Annisa as the program organizers of Men Care Plus. The discussion lasted for two hours, starting from 10:00 until 12:00 pm.

During the discussion, the representative of the bupati of Gunungkidul shared information regarding recent changes occurring in the community, including awareness surrounding the importance of women being represented within the government. The discussion continued with an explanation from the representative from P3APMKBD (Women Empowerment, Child Protection, Community Empowerment, Family Planning and Village) of Gunungkidul Regency, Bu Rum, who spoke about the socialization of policies regarding the protection of women and children in the Gunungkidul District.

At the end of the discussion a question and answer session was held, in addition to providing an opportunity for the representatives of UN WOMEN to share their experiences with the group. The involvement of men within women’s empowerment program has also begun in the Middle East region. Interestingly, the involvement of men within programs in Palestine has also taken on a similar approach to those implemented by Rifka Annisa within the community. While there was only a brief chance to share these experiences, it provided valuable insight for all participants who attended the discussion.

After the discussion at the Regional Secretariat of Gunungkidul, the group went to visit the community in Ngalang Village. Local people were very enthusiastic at welcoming the presence of UN WOMEN in the Village Hall at Ngalang. They welcomed the guests from UN WOMEN with regional dances, the dancers wearing brightly coloured costumes, indicating their identity as a region of excellence within tourism. All of the guests were given a locally made necklace to wear. After the dance, the guests were welcomed to eat dished made by the residence of Ngalang. The guests from UN WOMEN appeared to be very happy to have received a warm welcome from local residence.

Afterwards, the event started again with discussions and sharing of knowledge regarding the Men Care Plus Program. The local village chief also gave a speech, and spoke about the experiences of local residents who have followed the Men Care program. Followed by this was a presentation from Rifka Annisa, delivered by Nurmawati, as the program manager of the Men Care Plus Program.

Throughout the presentation of the program, enthusiasm from participants began to arise, with many questions being asked at the end. Participants were very interested in the presentation, and appeared to be very curious about the Men Care Plus program. Participants wanted to know about the types of activities undertaken in the program, as well as the efforts that need to be undertaken to change the value of masculinity, which is one of the goals of the program. However, when comparing the situation to their home countries with that of Indonesia, it is clear there are many differences, and it may be difficult to implement the program within their country. 

On the other hand, participants did not feel the greatest challenge would concern the implementation of this program; the greatest challenge would more likely be for the men aiming to follow the program, as it requires them to change an ideology they have followed for their entire lives which is not an easy task to do.

Questions regarding program challenges were answered by the Men Care Plus Program alumni, Siswanta and Jatmiko, who shared the story of the changes that took place for themselves and their families. Siswanta explained about the activities that were undertaken in the Men Care Program, and how they measured changes through a reflection at the end of each session.

Jatmiko added that the changes he experienced took a very long time. He admits that he grew up in a very strong patriarchal culture; it was difficult to change his outlook, which was formed from this very strong patriarchal culture. Especially when his parents and in-laws do not support this change, however Jatmiko and his wife remain committed to participating in the program, and still want to make changes. Although the change is felt slowly, his family is becoming more harmonious, and he is becoming closer with his children. At the end of his explanation, Jatmiko said "That small change can change the world." Jatmiko's story received a lively applause from the discussion participants.

Whilst the meetings and sharing of knowledge and experiences from UN WOMEN, the government, community of Gunungkidul, and Rifka Annisa were only brief, the information received contributed effectively to increased insight for all participants who attend the discussion.

At the end of the meeting session at the Village Hall, the participants from the discussion and local residents took pictures together and said their farewells. Unfortunately, at the last session at the village hall, time restrictions prevented UN WOMEN from being able to share their experiences with the participants. It is hoped that in the future they will be able to share their experiences, in order to increase the knowledge of citizens, and assist citizens’ organizations to learn about actions that can be taken in order to create a gender-just and gender-sensitive society.

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Translated by Kathleen Sherrin, intern student from Charles Darwin University, Australia

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