Interview with Ms. Lies Marcoes: Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Perspective in Research for Development

Leave a comment

Ms. Lies Marcoes is one of Indonesia’s foremost experts in Islam and gender. She has played a pioneering role in the Indonesian gender equality movement by bridging the divide between Muslim and secular feminists and encouraging feminists to work within Islam to promote gender equality. I had a chance to interview her on December 2016 to get her insights about Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Perspective in Research for Development.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

A: I graduated from IAIN/UIN Jakarta, from the Islamic Theology Faculty, with a Religious Comparison Major. After more than 15 years as an activist in the reproductive health area, including as a program manager at the Association of Islamic School Development and Community (P3M), I received a scholarship from the Ford Foundation for my Masters program in the field of Health Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.

I have also been a researcher and activist in the women’s movement in Indonesia. These are two roles that, in a number of cases, are not always linked to each other and not always played by one person. Usually, people choose to become activists by using the research outcomes of another institution as the basis for their cause, or they only become a researcher without advocating their research outcomes.

I may be a bit unique, in that I do both. I love the research world, especially research on religious social anthropology. This issue gave my life color and meaning. I love to go to the field; finding out, asking questions, listening to stories, and writing them up with a specific discipline and theory, particularly feminism. By doing this, I can explain a phenomenon by using a critical perspective related to the relationship (authority) between men and women, a perspective that can dismantle gender prejudice and bias, and the resulting discrimination.

I also love to write. I love writing research outcomes. I often write an extract of my research outcome in the opinion section in media such as Kompas, the Jakarta Post, or on social media by using popular and easy to understand language. When I am writing all of these, I feel that I am conducting advocacy to change perspectives or policies.

In the context of time, I think my momentum was timely, even though any time can be used as momentum for anyone to experience changes in their lives. I was going through life in the era of mid-New Order, which at the time was very arrogant towards people.

The political engine of the New Order, namely the Golkar party and civil servants, became the most effective backbone in supporting the regime. Meanwhile, others of us, NGOs, the student movement and the press, must work under a shadowy pressure – invincible but frightening. Speaking on women’s rights at the time, we had to point out the mistakes of the Family Planning (FP) program for example, a program that has been proven to support development by significantly reducing the birth rate. We had to explain that a program, even with its positive impact, must still be questioned if, in its implementation, it takes away individual basic rights of women controlling their own bodies and violates the principles of democracy by forcing their will without any room for negotiation. We know that at the time, FP was done coercively, using military means, systemic threats, using the approach of shame for those who did not follow the State’s will, and did not leave room to question or refuse the program. These methods, according to us activists, violated the basic principles of freedom and jeopardized the program itself. People were following FP because of force, not because of their own awareness, but through mobilization. Now, we can see the result, we have found the evidence that FP has been rejected for reasons that should have been discussed in the past–reasons related to its objectives, benefits, methods and origins. And this comes from a domain that should have been discussed first, such as religious or demographic political perspectives.

I used to speak about reproductive health in the face of state coercion, now my research and advocacy remains on reproductive health issues. The difference is that we used to face the coercive force of the State, now we are facing another shadowy force from the religious perspective, which also feels entitled to have power and control over a woman’s body.

Q: Can you explain how feminism is made operational in your research?

A: In researching any theme, I always want to critically observe the power relationship, including the gender power relationship.  With this gender analysis and feminism, I can also see the agency of women: how they provide meaning, either by being compliant or fighting against the patriarchal will that is making them suffer, but it requires a critical awareness to realize this. For example, when I researched the radical movements in Indonesia, I read several research outcomes on this issue. I am baffled as to how a religious movement in Indonesia can ignore the involvement of women. How can something so real and visible manage to be skipped in the research framework. For example, the wanted terrorist Noordin M. Top can survive because he is camouflaged by forming a regular and normal family. Don’t we want to know who the wife is, whether she is afraid or not, how did they know each other, what is the wife’s view of her husband’s cause? In short, don’t we want to know how the terrorist moves from one city to another, who washes his underwear? I am very surprised that research on a religious movement in Indonesia can fail to question the women’s position. At that point, I assume there is a huge gender bias. Terrorism is considered a masculine world, the world of men. But this bias is lost in the research.

Based on this curiosity, I designed research on women and fundamentalism. I tried to observe it in a round way, not directly at the heart of the research on radicalism. I agree with the opinion of Ihsan Ali Fauzie from PUSAD Paramadina, who concluded that fundamentalism is a way to radicalism. Together with a researcher of Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation (Rumah KitaB), we intensively interviewed 20 women on what can connect women to a fundamentalist point of view and movement in Indonesia. The outcome was very interesting. In each woman we interviewed, there is an agency to fight and engage in a jihad to defend her religion. The women attached a very personal meaning to jihad. Of course, this concept was received through their involvement in their fundamentalist group. Here, there is an agency role of women, namely as ‘servants’, both in providing meaning or even criticizing the organization or their fundamentalist group.

A more interesting thing is how women attach meaning to their jihad. Fundamentalist groups place jihad in two categories. One is major jihad (jihad kabir), namely jihad that puts your life on the line in the battlefield/conflict area. Meanwhile, small jihad (jihad saghir) is a jihad related to the role of women to give birth, especially to boys, that will become the actors of major jihad, and being patient while their husbands go on jihad. However, women from younger generations are not satisfied by this social role. They negotiate to participate in major jihad, for example by becoming bomb carriers. This is an interesting fact. But it is the researcher’s job to question this fact in a deeper way.

In my research, because I used gender analysis and feminism, I raised the question of why women feel dissatisfied with their traditional roles in performing small jihads. This question brought me to a more interesting finding. It would seem that the social position of women within fundamentalist groups is very low. They are unappreciated, unseen and unrecognized as something that provides meaning to jihad. These young women are desperate to prove their bravery, even being braver than men. They want their role to be seen and recognized. The only way to prove this is by sacrificing their lives (as the bomb carrier). In the theological concept, actors of jihad are incentivized by receiving angels in the next world, but what is in it for the women? The concept is not as bright and clear as for men. Despite this, women still want to prove that they are willing to put their lives at risk. With this, they are ‘respected’ and their presence and existence are accepted. We can then understand why some women are willing to blow themselves up by carrying a bomb and thinking of this as a jihad (read the publication of Rumah KitaB entitled the Testimony of the Servants: A Study about Women and Fundamentalism in Indonesia, red.).

Q: Violence against women is a long-standing phenomenon. How does your research bring to light data and information on the facts of violence, and thus, become evidence for policy change and social justice?

A: This is an interesting question. This explains my two working arenas – research, and writing for advocacy. I wrote an article in Kompas to respond to the statement of the Minister of Education and Culture, Mohammad Nuh, (he was in power from 22 October 2009 to 27 October 2014, red). At the time there was a rape of a Junior High School student in Depok, committed by her senior. The school refused the victim’s right to go to school after the rape. The minister said that this was not sexual violence, but consensual sex. So, instead of finding a solution on the discriminatory action of the school, the minister condoned it in the name of protecting more students.

In this article, I explained that sexual violence against teenagers is similar to violence in dating. The point is rape can occur in a relationship initially built on a consensual basis, but at one point there is a coercion using the power relationship in the name of love. There is a gender difference that must be understood on the perception of teen boys and girls on the expression of love, the power relationship, and the meaning of a sexual relationship. This difference needs correct understanding that is not biased and not based on male assumptions.

Another example is the research of Rumah KitaB that I am leading on child marriage (there are 14 research titles that can be viewed on Attempting to step out of the focus that sees child marriage as a result of poverty, we tried to further explore the root of such poverty. Child marriage has become a phenomenon that can be found almost anywhere in Indonesia, both in rural and urban areas. Data shows that one in five Indonesian women were married when they were under age, and two thirds of these marriages ended in divorce. Indonesia is in the top ten countries with the highest child marriage rates in the world. We tried to observe the root of the poverty, namely the changing living space in rural areas as a result of change of land ownership and its conversion. When men and community figures lose their access to land, they become more picky in dealing with public moral problems, including their teenagers. They tend to be more conservative and at least let child marriage slide. By doing this, they show their power politics role and receive economic benefits by becoming a regulation broker. At the analysis level, this research demonstrated how child marriage is actually a form of violence by adults to children. To make matters even more frightening, this violence is agreed upon between adults. Not one adult is challenging it. They often state moral reasoning, in the best interests of the child, covering up shame or resolving immoral conduct. This is contradictory, because marriage of a child is clearly immoral. They drop out of school, stop expressing themselves, and stop playing, which are their rights.

Among the institutions that we observed in the context of this research, there were ‘vague’ institutions. There were neither formal nor informal institutions, but they were extraordinarily effective in promoting child marriage practices.

Q: How do you, along with other researchers, advocate a policy change that is not reactive and does not target the issue on this ‘vague power at work’?

A: We see that child marriage is promoted not only by formal institutions, but by other institutions accommodating this practice. Emergency door regulations, such as dispensation to get married when under age from the Religious Court after the Religious Office has refused because it violated the Marriage Law is one of the accommodative formal institutions. Or, people take advantage of informal institutions, where a community figure is involved in approving a child marriage by conducting an under-handed marriage, which is illegal from the State’s point of view, but legal from a religious standpoint.

Between these two institutions, there is a very powerful situation encouraging child marriage practices, neither by formal nor informal institutions. We call it a ‘vague institution’, namely decisions taken by unknown figures. It may be the mother, father, relative, a big family or the community. The point is marriage is done to cover up shame and resolve the anxiety of adults surrounding the child. This is particularly true when the child is pregnant, or is considered to have disturbed the family stability by the way the child expresses his or her sexuality. They are considered flirtatious, unable to control themselves, and so forth. This shame has plenty of power, but its bearer is so vague. That is what we mean by vague power at work.

The research on child marriage that we conducted has produced new theories that still need to undergo some testing, for example, the phenomenon of social orphans, where the child does not have a father and mother as a place for them to seek protection and help. Their parents have lost their social roles as parents due to severe and systemic poverty.

Q: What kind of progressive maneuver would you like to create through your research to improve the gap in the power relationship between women and men in Indonesia?

A: Our research on FP (publication entitled Religious Perspective Map on Family Planning, red.), fundamentalism, women in radical movements, or child marriage basically shows how religious views and institutions can take a larger role in protecting women. We do this by contrasting text and reality when text is used blindly as a tool to justify or legitimise violence against women. We show facts on this violence and face it with the normative, ideal teachings brought by religion. If we believe religion is a blessing for all humanity, why are only some people enjoying it? If religion teaches us good things, why does it result in bad treatment of women? Certainly, it is not about the religion, but how people interpret it in a biased and incomplete way. In the niche between the fact of bad treatment suffered by women and the normative ideal value of religion, we have the opportunity to build an alignment to women. The feminism analysis knife to me is a way to grow critical thinking and methodology to build alignment, namely thinking and action to address oppression.

Q: What trend do you want to see in the next generation of researchers and analysts that want to promote policy change for social justice?

A: A while ago, I saw a documentary video of a poet, Agam Wispi, an Indonesian exile poet staying in Amsterdam. He was a poet for the People’s Cultural Institution (Lekra) from Medan, North Sumatera in the late 1930s. He was the most influential Lekra poet during 1950-1960s, before joining the navy and being stuck abroad during the 1965 incident. According to the records of the Literature Encyclopaedia developed by the Ministry of Education and Culture, his poetry contained reform never seen before, such as language, expression and emotional word choices. I was very impressed with his work because it contained anger about the social situation that he considered to be unfair for the poor.

In the 1980s, he was invited to Jakarta and he met young poets and writers in Indonesia. He was very impressed with how active these youths were. According to him, their work was very creative and they were acting to fight the oppressive regime.

Inspired by this interview, I see that a critical young generation is the most important element in social change. Issues of environment, labour and specific issues on the oppression of women are mobilized by activists. They are not just conducting research, but also consistently and persistently taking action to move and resist a bad situation. The methods may be different than during my years. The actions today are done through fun methods, out of the standard organizational boxes, but they produce very good results. Social media and technology are clearly helping them, while back in my era cell phones did not even exist.

I see the use of social media as an advocacy tool being a trend that will develop in the future. Infographics, short videos and short movies will become inevitable smart choices in this digital era to advocate policies from research outcomes. This is the era of youth in a fast-paced global era.

However, there are two things that can pose a threat. The first is ethics. The truth of social media news is very hard to trace, from research methodology and knowledge management perspectives. How the research was conducted is not explained, all we get is the outcome. We really must uphold ethics, if not, there will be research outcomes that cannot be academically accounted for, making it no different from hoax news. If false information is used for advocacy material, that is truly frightening and clearly wrong.

The second issue, and I feel that this is a crisis, is organization at the grass roots level. It is there that the real fight for humanity issues lies. Who do we want to defend? Surely the oppressed people. To find them and build their resistance to oppression in the social or gender structure, they need friends. Who is currently working at the village level to organize the people? Political parties do not go that low, instead we have religious communal groups. A number of villages are lucky to be selected for NGO work. Beyond that, we expect the awareness to come from the villagers themselves, who regretfully, have not learned to truly organize themselves for more than 40 or 50 years. Existing organizations are established by the State through agents (village officials). Village elites become small kings who are currently managing their own funds, such as the village fund allocation. In my observation, this is an important facility to conduct advocacy for change. However, the institutional and organizational aspects at the lower level are very fragile. Village discussions become a technocratic mechanism where the voice of the marginalized, including women, is rarely heard. I feel that the trend of change should come from there, but who is over there? Without any critical people, without organizations based on the essence of democracy and public space free from primordial interests, we will let democracy die from its most basic core: representation at the village level.

So if you ask me what do I want to see in the future, I want people’s education at the village level. Not only Qur’an recital. Not only about livelihoods. I want a community organization growing at the community level, the village. It is not enough through organizations managed by the village or recital/religious groups, but a critical people’s organization, where people are aware of their rights, within which are elements of marginalized villagers who have the same opportunity to voice their opinions. Efforts toward this have clearly been done, but again, who is over there? I left the village a while ago. I am only looking from afar and am powerless to raise the awareness of my own village people. This is ironic for many activists of social movement and GESI justice movement.

Q: Within the next five years, how do you see the ‘GESI perspective in research for development’ helping to create and support a wider and more robust knowledge sector in Indonesia?

A: At the knowledge production level, we have to be able to prove that without GESI, just like the examples I put forward from several researches above, the research outcomes are not only inaccurate, but also lost. Lost here means that the knowledge production cannot fulfill the expectation, which should be the basis of policies. When the research is wrong, how can the recommendations be right? At the communication level, we need creative ways, just as activists do through media, but they must be very GESI-sensitive. Not for the sake of GESI itself, but so that knowledge can really be effective and knowledge can be easily read by policy makers.

I feel that issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) must be prioritized. There are 17 targets that need robust knowledge production. This will also help policy makers to budget and plan a policy. A simple example is how many contraceptives are needed in this country? We cannot simply give up to the drug industry producers. Knowledge production must be able to complement the State with correct data, so that the State can meet the reach of contraceptives, thus meeting the rights of women.

SGD targets need good databases. The GESI perspective is important to be brought forward, especially for data on targets that seem to be neutral on GESI, for example, the target to eradicate malnutrition and famine, or targets on water and sanitation. Without using GESI, the target to eradicate malnutrition, stunting, famine, or to make clean water available will not be achieved. There needs to be an understanding of how the power relationship works and influences access and control of nutrition and clean water. The power relationship can be based on ethnicity, race, physical condition, or geographical condition, within which there should be the reality of the gender and age relationship.

The same material is published by Knowledge Sector Initiative, a joint program between the government of Indonesia and Australia that seeks to improve the lives of the Indonesian people through better quality public policies, that make better use of research, analysis and evidence, in its website:

Interview with Ms. Azriana, Head of Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women 2015-2019

Leave a comment

I had the chance to interview the chance to interview Ms. Azriana, the Head of the National Commission on Violence against Women (further referred as Komnas Perempuan) 2015–2019, to discuss her changed role, from activist to the head of the Commission, and her views on how the Commission uses data and evidence to influence the policy-making process, and how to integrate gender perspectives into research for policy.

Q: Can you tell me about your background?
A: I was born in Lhoksukon, which is now the capital of North Aceh. I completed my bachelor degree in 1993 at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh. Since 1995, I have been handling issues on violence against women, in addition to working as legal advocate; at the time it was called attorney at law. In 1998, the status of Military Operational Zone (DOM) in Aceh was revoked, however, armed conflicts ensued, rendering local government activities in Aceh paralyzed for some time. After the revocation of DOM status, I worked in humanitarian activities, especially in helping refugee women and children. Until today, my activities have mostly revolved around civil society movements rather than practicing law.

Q: Becoming the Head of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) for the period 2015–2019 surely requires a different commitment than your previous position as an NGO activist working outside a government institution. Why did you choose this path? 
A: Advocacy work by NGOs at a certain level requires political power. This power can be obtained by organising community movements, becoming a policy maker through a political party, or getting involved in a state institution functioning as a human rights mechanism to ensure that the Government fulfils the human rights of the people. I chose a national human rights mechanism as my advocacy vehicle when I started to face challenges organising women’s groups in Aceh. After the conflict and tsunami, community empowerment programs used approaches that were not at all empowering, and religion was being so powerfully politicised that it led to diminished critical thinking by the community. This was making my advocacy work more difficult. In addition to that, the number of friends working in advocacy in the field of women’s issues was dwindling, the women’s empowerment space was taken over by religious fundamentalist groups, and violence and discrimination against women increased. It was even being justified by using Islamic Sharia. This was happening in areas still suffering from the remnants of the conflict, where stigma and violence were used to deal with diversity. Due to this increasingly limited space, I decided to join Komnas Perempuan, a more strategic vehicle in relation to its mandate and authority to respond to the violent situation against women, especially in Aceh.

Q: Violence against women is a phenomenon that has existed for a long time. How does Komnas Perempuan present data and information as evidence for policy change in order to achieve social justice? 
A: Komnas Perempuan uses data from its monitoring and studies to establish new knowledge on violence against women through a number of publications, concept papers and policy papers. We communicate this new knowledge to relevant parties, namely national and local governments, law enforcement agencies, universities, religious organizations and indigenous institutions, to promote the production of better policies. In addition to that, we utilize the data from our monitoring and studies to develop support mechanisms for victims of violence that can be used by service providing partners, both community based and government institutions. We also use the data to develop themes, tagline and public campaign material/media, such as the ‘16 Days Campaign on Violence against Women’, ‘Let’s Speak the Truth’ and ‘Diversity of Komnas Perempuan Campaign’, collaborating with partners throughout Indonesia.

Q: What kind of progressive maneuvering space does Komnas Perempuan intend to create to improve the uneven power relationship between women and men in Indonesia? 
A: A space that places the issue of women’s rights, especially eradicating violence against women, at the same level of importance as the main issues of the state and nation. Komnas Perempuan tries to improve the legal sphere that still positions women as targets or marking symbols, by: documenting discriminatory policies; creating a mechanism that enables easier access for victims to have their rights fulfilled; opening spaces of recognition and protection for household workers, migrant workers and entertainment industry workers; and influencing global policies through involvement in international human rights forums and mechanisms.

Q: There are a number of agendas on social change to create conducive individual and community constellations, social relationships and behavioural patterns to achieve a life free from fear and discrimination against women. How do you and Komnas Perempuan choose priorities?
A: Komnas Perempuan formulates its strategic goals and priority issues once every five years, which then translates into its annual work plan. These strategic goals and priority issues are established based on monitoring results, including the Annual Records of Violence against Women in Indonesia, analysis of Komnas Perempuan on the internal and external situation related to the issue of violence against women, and baseline data owned by Komnas Perempuan.

Q: There is a real gap between researchers and the policy-making objective. Often, research for policies is gender neutral and does not consider that women will face more challenges accessing, controlling, participating in and receiving benefits from said public policies. What are your suggestions so that researchers pay closer attention to this gap? 
A: Researchers need to constantly possess and sharpen their gender perspective. This perspective must be integrated into their research stages as a whole, starting from research design, method development, data collection and analysis, to the development of recommendations. A gender perspective will enable researchers to develop a conducive and effective method for women from specific groups–vulnerable groups and minority groups–who are still facing social and cultural challenges, to convey their views and experiences.

Q: Komnas Perempuan develops and publishes various reports, such as monitoring reports, legal and policy assessments, institutional reports and international reports. How is the evidence collection process conducted? What process does Komnas Perempuan use to influence policy making?
A: Evidence or fact collection is done based on the monitoring instrument developed by Komnas Perempuan. This instrument was designed by considering the situation and condition of women in every context and dimension of violence. Monitoring and fact collection is conducted by engaging the participation of the local community. Komnas Perempuan establishes monitoring networks in almost all of its monitored areas. In addition to providing skills for local people to perform documentation, these monitoring networks are part of our efforts to ensure the sustainability of local resource-based monitoring. Komnas Perempuan presents the results of its monitoring report to policy makers at a specially organized public event. Policy makers are asked to respond to the findings and recommendations from the Commission. After the report presentation, the Commission engages in consultation with each policy-making institution (ministry/institution or other government agency) to ensure follow up on the recommendations. On the issue of sexual violence for example, Komnas Perempuan, along with the Service Providing Forum partners, has the initiative to draft the Law on Eradication of Sexual Violence, to ensure that the need to protect women suffering sexual violence is included in the draft.

Q: I want to specifically highlight the Commission’s monitoring report entitled, ‘On Behalf of Local Autonomy: Institutional Discrimination within the Sphere of the Indonesian State and Nation. Monitoring Report of the Condition of Women’s Constitutional Rights Fulfillment in 16 Districts/Cities in 7 Provinces’ (the report is only available in Bahasa Indonesia with title: Atas Nama Otonomi Daerah: Pelembagaan Diskriminasi dalam Tatanan Negara-Bangsa Indonesia. Laporan Pemantauan Kondisi Pemenuhan Hak-Hak Konstitusional Perempuan di 16 Kabupaten/Kota pada 7 Provinsi). Findings from Komnas Perempuan state that there were 154 problematic local policies issued between 1999 and 2009, as they facilitate institutional discrimination, both through their goals and impacts. Additionally, the Academic Paper on the Policy Analyst Functional Position developed by the State Administrative Agency, Centre for Policy Management Study, Magister of Public Administration, Gadjah Mada University, concluded that losses incurred by the state from problematic public policies has reached trillions of rupiahs each year – each local regulation needs Rp. 500 million to Rp. 2 billion. Based on this evidence, what can the Commission do to promote effective local policy making without reducing people’s rights or perpetuating violence against women?
A: One of the important achievements of Komnas Perempuan in its advocacy to oppose discriminative policies is the integration of an anti-gender-discrimination clause into Law Number 23 Year 2014 on Local Governance. This law also provides a layered revocation mechanism for discriminative local policies. This achievement evolved from intensive discussion between Komnas Perempuan and the Legal Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs starting in 2012. In addition to that, the Commission has developed a Guideline for Testing Constitutional Policy to help local government ensure that local regulations do not contain discriminative materials or substance in guaranteeing the fulfillment of the constitutional rights of the public. This guideline has been socialized to local governments in the 10 provinces and districts/cities producing the highest number of discriminative policies. The challenges will be in making sure this guideline is referenced by local governments when producing regulations. Structure wise, the Commission has no authority for that. Therefore, the Commission needs to continue to encourage the Ministry of Home Affairs to optimize its authority to conduct mentoring to local governments in regulation development to prevent and revoke discriminative local regulations. There were at least 421 discriminative policies as of October 2016.

Q: What suggestions will you give to activists striving for the fulfillment of women rights, both through research and advocacy, so that they are successful in supporting real changes in order to achieve social justice? 
A: The strive to fulfill human rights for women does not only come face to face with existing social and cultural construction still undermining women, but also with policy makers whose paradigm is formed by a social system that is gender biased, even sometimes misogynistic, towards women. Research and advocacy are two important areas that influence each other in the effort to fight for human rights fulfillment for women. Advocacy should be done based on data and facts. Research results will be in vain if not used to advocate for change, therefore, synergy between research work and advocacy work needs to be established. In the context of violence against women, both research and advocacy should be centered on the victim.

The same material is published by Knowledge Sector Initiative, a joint program between the government of Indonesia and Australia that seeks to improve the lives of the Indonesian people through better quality public policies, that make better use of research, analysis and evidence, in its website:—2019

Further reading about Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women could be retrieved from

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: Avant Propos

Leave a comment

The United Nations General Assembly through resolution 54/134 of December 17, 1999, designated November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Prior to that, women’s activists had marked the date as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters (political activists in the Dominican Republic, which story was later filmed in In the Time of Butterflies), on orders of Dominican rule Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Violence against women is a human rights violations. Recent facts and figures reveal that:

  • 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to 7 in 10 women facing this abuse in some countries
  • An estimated 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth (the following video might help you to get the logic: or this simple photo
  • The costs and consequences of violence against women last for generations

Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women (should you forget the simple formula, I re-write it here, “Gender equality gives women and men the same entitlements to all aspects of human development, including economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights; the same level of respect; the same opportunities to make choices; and the same level of power to shape the outcomes of these choices.”)

Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.

Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential.

Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic (check this infographic:

This writing is my personal commitment of joining 16 days of activism.


From November 25 to December 10 of Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. This year marks the 21-year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA) -the most progressive road map to gender equality. This first writing is merely a compilation of information from various resources to kick off. The next writings will be written either in English or Bahasa Indonesia (my national language). You are free to check the followings for further information about the campaign: and

#ViolenceagainstWomen #16days

Tribute to My Mom by Sayid Abdullaev

Leave a comment

My dear global family,

It has been 20 days since the day my mom has left this planet to go to Heaven.

Losing a parent is such an outlandish feeling, like somebody took an important piece of your soul and left you figuring it out without any hints on how to move on. It is when breathing becomes so unfamiliar that you have no idea if you still belong. It is an impossible pain, however it makes you stronger, because it is the only choice you have…

I know my mom would want me to keep on smiling and move forward with the sense of purpose towards the greatness she has breathed into me.

The week before my mom has passed away, we had a profound conversation on the importance of finding the purpose of being here on Earth and discovering the gifts that each of us has to make this world a better place. I asked my mom, what she thinks her gift was to this world; she looked at me with her kind eyes and said “It is you!” she said, she believes in me, and she knows no matter what kind of challenges might be ahead, she is firm in the belief that I will be great.

Therefore, I am choosing to be patient, I choosing to be grateful for the time I was able to spent with my mom, I am choosing to celebrate each day as a promise to carry the legacy of my mom in all I do, I am choosing to continue making a difference for mothers, fathers, and children the world over, I am choosing to live each day with an open heart and an open mind.

The day my mom has passed away, on the International Day of Peace, I was getting ready for my meeting with the Russian President Putin, and my mom was so proud and excited. It was already hard for her to move and talk, but as I came to her room in the morning, she was in a lot of pain, but she found strength to extend her hands to me … as I kissed them, she said “Do not cry: it is all going to be great,” she held my hands, I looked at her eyes and they were full of courage, pride, kindness, perseverance, and warmth. If only I knew it would be the last time I see her, I would hold her hands forever …

My mom has given me the birth on Earth Day and left this planet on the International Day of Peace, and that’s how she will be remembered: peaceful and kind, a beautiful spiritual being who has blessed us with her human experience, small person with the huge heart, and of course as the mother who has experienced incomprehensible challenges to raise us, her children, and taught us to be always responsible for the space we are holding on Earth …

Mom, your heart beats in my heart! I love you and I really really miss you!!!!

Disclaimer: this beautiful piece was a speech delivered by a friend, Sayid Abdullaev, at the Farewell Party of UNESCO Chair International Regional Training Programme: A Global Intergenerational Forum in Bangkok, Thailand, November 10, 2012. You can find more about him here Sayid Abdullaev

Hanum Indria dan Knit Uroe

Leave a comment

Kakak ngak bisa bantu yang lain, dik. Cuma bisa bantu supaya ilmu Hanum bertambah [dengan membaca referensi berbeda]. Jadi orang yang Hanum ajarin juga ilmunya makin banyak. (26 Mei 2015)

Percakapan via WA tersebut mengawali keinginan saya untuk melakukan “random act of kindness” yang sesungguhnya tidak murni random. Saya mengenal sosok Hanum Indria dengan sangat baik: adik kelas di SMP dan SMU. Juga, bergiat di organisasi intra sekolah yang sama: PALASTIG (Pencinta Alam SMUN 3 Banda Aceh). Namun keinginan untuk membantunya yang menurut saya cukup random karena saya bahkan tidak memahami apa yang menjadi passion-nya.

Dalam beberapa kesempatan berbeda dimana kami menghabiskan waktu bersama –dan ini cukup jarang karena saya sering mukim di luar kota, saya hampir selalu melihatnya dengan segelondong benang dan dua pengait. Hanum terlihat sangat terampil memainkan dua pengait tersebut sembari tetap menyimak dan terlibat dalam diskusi kami dengan sepenuh hati. Hal yang mungkin lebih mengagetkan adalah terkait mimpi yang ingin diwujudkan setelah mendapatkan gelar Sarjana Teknik (ST) dari Jurusan Teknik Sipil Universitas Syiah Kuala. Saat semua lulusan PTN ataupun PTS di Aceh berburu mengikuti ujian CPNS, Hanum bahkan bersikap tidak peduli.


Bersama dengan dua orang teman, Marwan dan Miswar, ia membangun sebuah shelter yang direncanakan sebagai tempat mengajar keterampilan rajut kepada mereka yang ingin mempelajarinya. Tempatnya tidak jauh, di pekarangan rumahnya di Tungkop, Darussalam, Kecamatan Aceh Besar. Saya pernah mampir dan dengan keterampilan yang terbatas, membantu menghaluskan permukaan bambu yang akan digunakan sebagai pagar. Saya benar-benar terpukau dengan segala ketekunan Hanum dan dua temannya dalam pekerjaan membangun shelter yang dilakukan swadaya.


Sembari menunggu bangunan tersebut rampung, Hanum terus menebarkan ilmunya kepada mereka yang tertarik untuk belajar bersama. Percakapan WA pada awal Juni lalu membuktikan keyakinan saya bahwa perempuan ini, seorang Hanum Indria, sungguh memahami apa yang ingin dilakukannya dalam hidup.

Di antara anak sekolah di Kajhu yang sudah bisa merajut, ada 2 orang yang dari Lamno. Salah satunya sudah bisa baca pola. Dengan pendampingan selama 6 bulan, setiap orangnya sudah bisa mengajar masing-masing 2 orang lagi. Target Hanum, minimal 5 orang saja sudah bisa membentuk kelompok mandiri, kemudian bisa mencari ciri khas kelompok dan meluncurkan merek sendiri. Hasilnya bisa dipasarkan di Banda Aceh.

Perempuan ini sungguh luar biasa! Kemuliaan niatnya dan kesungguhannya untuk menekuni apa yang menjadi passion-nya telah menggugah saya. Saya menuliskan kisah ini karena saya ingin menggerakkan alam semesta untuk membantunya, mengingat keterbatasan kedua tangan saya yang mungil ini.

Sejauh ini, saya sudah mengirimkan beberapa buku sebagai referensi untuk Hanum dan juga kelompoknya (ada 11 judul). Saya juga sedang berusaha mendapatkan informasi mengenai lembaga di Provinsi Aceh sana yang bertanggung jawab untuk pendaftaran merek. Hanum adalah perempuan yang cepat belajar, sehingga seandainya ada teman-teman yang ingin berbagi keahlian dan keterampilan dengan Hanum via tutorial online, saya juga mungkin bisa memfasilitasi ini. Or any other thoughts yang sekiranya bisa membuat Hanum memaksimalkan spill over effect dari keahliannya kepada yang lain, silahkan berbagi di kolom komentar.


Saya percaya pada sebuah sentuhan kecil yang diniatkan dengan penuh kemuliaan dan kerendahan hati akan menjadi sesuatu yang bermakna besar bagi kemanusiaan dan mungkin peradaban

(Semua foto yang digunakan di tulisan ini sudah mendapatkan izin dari yang bersangkutan. Ingin mengetahui lebih jauh mengenai Hanum, silahkan cek Facebooknya di Hanum Indria)

Konflik Aceh: Dehumanisasi dan Upaya Damai

Leave a comment

Akhir 1999, saya bergabung dengan sebuah LSM di Banda Aceh -La Kasspia, the Institute for Peace and Human Security Studies sebagai kepala departemen penelitian dan pengembangan. Saat itu, status Daerah Operasi Militer (DOM) yang telah disandang Aceh sejak 1989 telah lebih setahun dicabut, tepatnya melalui pernyataan resmi Menteri Pertahanan dan Keamanan/Panglima ABRI Jenderal TNI Wiranto pada 7 Agustus 1998. Namun, dehumanisasi yang menjelma dalam bentuk extrajudicial killing or summary execution, enforced or involuntary disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention dan rape terus terjadi melalui periodisasi operasi militer pasca DOM, yaitu:

  1. Operasi Wibawa (Agustus – Januari 1999)
  2. Operasi Sadar Rencong I (Mei 1999 – Januari 2000)
  3. Operasi Sadar Rencong II (Februari – Mei 2000)
  4. Operasi Cinta Meunasah (Juni 2000 – 18 Februari 2001)
  5. Masa JoU (2 Juni 2000 – 15 Januari 2001)
  6. Masa Moratorium (15 Januari – 15 Februari 2001)
  7. Masa Instruksi Presiden No. 4 Tahun 2001 dan Instruksi Presiden No. 7 Tahun 2001 tentang Langkah-Langkah Komprehensif dalam Rangka Penyelesaian Masalah Aceh, dilanjutkan dengan Instruksi Presiden No. 1 Tahun 2002 (11 April – 30 November 2002)
  8. Masa CoHA (Desember 2002 – Mei 2003)
  9. Darurat Militer (19 Mei 2003 – 19 Mei 2004)
  10. Darurat Sipil (Mei 2004 – Mei 2005)

La Kasspia ikut berkontribusi menyediakan sumber informasi bagi upaya-upaya resolusi konflik, salah satunya melalui publikasi dua laporan berikut: Laporan Kajian Triwulan Kondisi Sosial Politik Aceh dan Laporan Kajian terhadap JoU.

Saya ingin berbagi sumber informasi tersebut di sini, utamanya bagi pemerhati masalah konflik, agar pengetahuan ini menjadi kepingan puzzle yang melengkapi sejarah konflik di Aceh.


Babak baru bagi penyelesaian konflik Aceh secara damai dimulai dengan diselenggarakannya rangkaian perundingan damai antara Pemerintah Republik Indonesia dan Gerakan Aceh Merdeka yang dimediasi oleh Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Rangkaian perundingan damai ini dimulai dengan periode Joint Understanding on Humanitarian Pause yang ditandatangani pada 12 Mei 2000 di Davos, Swiss; dilanjutkan dengan Provisional Understanding (Moratorium) yang ditandatangani di Swiss bertepatan dengan pertemuan Joint Forum pada 6-9 Januari 2001; diakhiri dengan Cessation of Hostilities Agreement yang ditandatangani pada 9 Desember 2002. Periode ini menghasilkan dinamika konflik yang berbeda; kekerasan meningkat meskipun di atas meja perundingan telah disepakati mekanisme gencatan senjata hingga peredaan ketegangan antara kedua belah pihak. CoHA menemui kegagalan pada 19 Mei 2003 seiring dengan deklarasi all out war oleh Pemerintah RI terhadap GAM yang diperkirakan berjumlah 5.000 orang dengan kekuatan 2.000 pucuk senjata. Darurat Militer menjadi titik kulminasi bagi usaha damai yang telah dirintis sejak 2000 dalam rangka menyelesaikan konflik Aceh dengan cara-cara non-kekerasan.

Referensi Lain:

Internal Review of Aceh Initiative oleh Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue bisa diakses di

Naskah Provisional Understanding (Moratorium) juga bisa diakses di

Naskah CoHA dan Memorandum of Understanding yang difasilitasi oleh Crisis Management Initiative bisa diakses di

Bincang-Bincang dengan Kevin Evans tentang Korupsi dan Penegakan Integritas

Leave a comment

Mirisa Hasfaria (MH): Sejak reformasi bergulir, Indonesia sudah membentuk atau mereformasi institusi-institusi yang akan mengawal tata pemerintahan yang baik dan akuntabel, seperti membentuk KPK, atau mereformasi Badan Pengawasan Keuangan dan Pembangunan (BPKP) dan Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan (BPK). Namun mengapa tidak ada transformasi yang signifikan terkait dengan komitmen pemberantasan korupsi dan penegakan integritas di Indonesia?

Kevin Evans (KE): Isu pertama adalah apakah tidak ada kemajuan di Indonesia di bidang ini? Saya rasa jawaban adalah banyak. Bahwasanya koran dan TV penuh isu-isu dan skandal korupsi disebabkan “bad news sells” dan manusia dimana-mana nampak suka melihat orang hebat jatuh, apalagi jika kejatuhan dapat dikaitkan dengan kezoliman atau ketidak-adilan seperti korupsi.

Koran penuh dengan berita ini, yang sebetulnya mengisi ranah publik dan perspektif masyarakat umum karena empat hal:

  1. Bad news sells
  2. Masyarakat tidak lagi mentolerir perilaku korupsi (contoh paling nyata upaya untuk menjatuhkan KPK gagal karena rakyat menuntut balik dan tidak ada politikus yang berani melawan tsunami pendapat publik serta partai yang dianggap bau korupsi mati – lihat Demokrat dan PKS saat ini atau PDIP dulu, atau Golkar sebelum itu;
  3. Rakyat semakin peka dan mengerti masalah dan dampak korupsi sehingga lebih pintar “mencium”nya dari pada dulu
  4. Pers di Indonesia sudah bebas untuk mengkritik atau mengudarakan “bad news” yang memojokkan pihak yang berkuasa. Hal ini sangat berbeda dari zaman dulu.

Akibat dari hal tersebut di atas adalah kebanjiran berita mengenai hal yang layak dibaca publik. Dengan demikian kesan dan persepsi yang kemudian muncul adalah keadaan saat ini lebih buruk dari dulu ,padahal belum tentu. Justru kebebasan untuk mempertanggungjawabkan penguasa merupakan satu pintu yang membongkar dan mengerdilkan potensi korupsi berskala besar.

Mari kita elaborasi poin 3. Kalau anak SBY mau masuk ke kancah politik istilah di Indonesia adalah nepotisme bahkan nepotisme akbar. Di Singapura anak mantan perdana menteri (Lee Hsien Loong, putra tertua Lee Kuan Yew) dijadikan perdana menteri disambut sebagai bukti kehebatan keluarga tersebut!!! Di Indonesia anak SBY belum apa-apa sudah disikapi demikian. Anak Lee Kuan Yew bahkan jadi dan tidak ada komentar negatif. Mengapa demikian??

Jadi, saya tidak setuju kalau tidak ada kemajuan untuk mengatasi masalah korupsi di Indonesia. Grafis tentang persepsi korupsi menunjukkan bahwa pada tahun 1999, Indonesia menempati ranking ketiga terburuk di dunia dengan nilai 1,9 dari 10. [1] Pada tahun 2011 ranking Indonesia sudah naik sampai ke 3,0 dan setara dengan Meksiko dan Argentina dan letaknya di posisi menengah di dunia, bukan lagi di bawah.

Nah kalau rakyat masih jauh dari puas merupakan petanda baik bahwa mereka tetap menuntut perbaikan lagi. Dan memang masih banyak yang harus diperbaiki. Namun demikian sudah saatnya rakyat di sini mulai menilai diri secara lebih bermartabat daripada dulu. Indonesia tidak lagi seburuk negara perang dan gagal. [2] Kalau sudah masuk ke ranking menengah sudah tak bisa ditolak sebagai perkembangan positif. Namun sebagaimana yang saya sebutkan di atas, masih ada banyak yang harus diperbaiki.

Tahap berikut untuk melanjutkan perbaikan adalah jangan hanya obsesi di Indonesia untuk mencari dan menghukum koruptor seolah-olah proses hukuman sudah cukup. Sayang sekali pendekatan penegakan hukum jauh dari cukup.

Yang harus jauh lebih dikedepankan adalah perbaikan sistem yang dapat menjadikan perilaku korupsi tidak begitu menguntungkan atau terlalu merepotkan sehingga “not worth it”. Bukan hanya “mungkin saya bisa ditangkap”, walau risiko ini sangat penting sebagai hal yang harus dipertimbangkan oleh calon koruptor.

Teriakan untuk hal seperti hukuman mati bagi saya membuang waktu.

Hal ini dikarenakan faktor yang mengubah perilaku orang (deterrence effect) bukan beratnya jeratan pidana atau perdata melainkan kepastiannya.

Misalnya kalau saya tahu ada hukuman mati, tapi saya juga tahu bahwa hukuman tersebut masih bisa ‘dinegosiasikan dengan polisi, jaksa sampai ke hakim’, belum lagi jumlah koruptor yang ditangkap masih sangat sedikit, maka apa yang perlu ditakuti? Namun jika hukumannya hanya dipecat dari jabatan serta harus mengembalikan kerugian negara, tapi saya yakin bahwa pasti ditangkap, maka situasi mana yang akan menjadikan saya berpikir seribu kali sebelum bertindak korup?

Jadi ingat, bukan beratnya jeratan pidana atau perdata melainkan kepastian yang mengubah perilaku manusia.

Kalau perbaikan sistem kita mulai dari kesadaran akan lapangan riil dimana peraturan harus ditegakkan, yaitu situasi pranata sosial, budaya, ekonomi dan politik rakyat. Dari sana kita bisa membentuk peraturan yang rasional, terpadu dan koheren.

Contoh nyata adalah peraturan jalan 3-in-1. Sejak hari diberlakukannya sekitar tahun 1994, sudah bobrok dengan langsung munculnya industri joki dan industri susulan seperti polisi yang mencari keuntungan dari pemerasan joki, dan sebagainya. Jadi sejak hari pertama sudah gagal, namun hampir 20 tahun berikut masih dipakai! Atau UU Pemilu yang sudah cantik dan lengkap dengan 50 pasal pidana. Tapi pertanyaannya kemudian, siapa yang akan menegakannya? Ada 100.000 calon lebih, 4,6 juta staf KPU, KPUD, sampai ke KPPS, 120 juta pemilih aktif, dan entah berapa anggota tim kampanye masing-masing calon. Tapi di seluruh Indonesia hanya ada 300.000 polisi!!! Mana mungkin ditegakkan peraturan ini? Jelas-jelas tidak ditegakkan. Bolong lagi, sehingga kehadiran pasal-pasal pidana ini tidak ada efek jera atau dampak kecuali dipakai oleh pihak yang memang ditangkap sebagai alasan untuk teriak “konspirasi politik” dan sebagainya.

MH: Peran apa yang diharapkan dimainkan oleh OMS dalam rangka pemberantasan korupsi dan peningkatan integritas di Indonesia? Apakah peran-peran ini memiliki landasan legal formal, atau ini hanya moral imperative yang sekali lagi disandingkan ke pundak mereka dalam rangka transformasi sosial?

KE: Masyarakat sipil punya peran untuk tetap mengangkat isu, turut mendidik masyarakat umum tentang bahaya korupsi, membongkar kasus atau serahkan bukti korupsi dan penyalahgunaan wewenang kepada pihak yang berwajib. Mereka juga bisa membuka aib koruptor yang mencari jabatan publik termasuk anggota legislatif dan eksekutif agar rakyat dapat menilai. Koprupsi dari rakyat misalnya menuntut uang dari bakal calon juga harus dijelaskan dan dikutuk sebagai perilaku yang memperpanjang rantai korupsi oleh pihak yang bagi-bagi duit nantinya, karena orang tersebut adalah pengutang besar pada sponsor dan pendanaannya sehingga tidak bisa diharapkan akan membantu rakyat.

MH: Saat berada di Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi Aceh-Nias (BRR) dulu, saya familiar dengan Pakta Integritas [3] dan Conflict of Interest, apakah ini satu-satunya mekanisme yang diharapkan bisa memberantas korupsi dan meningkatkan integritas?

KE: Program seperti Pakta Integritas, pengendalian benturan kepentingan dan sebagainya merupakan alat yang dapat membangun benteng keamanan dalam lembaga dan orang di dalam agar mereka terpaksa bekerja dengan integritas, dan supaya orang luar tahu bahwa orang dalam nggak bisa main macam-macam. Kita perlu juga mengembangkan mekanisme untuk mengendalikan nepotisme. Menurut saya, nepotisme merupakan jalan menuju korupsi. Masalahnya adalah saya nggak yakin kalau orang Indonesia benar-benar menolak/mengutuk nepotisme seperti mereka mengutuk korupsi dan kolusi. Inilah kerja penting untuk masyarakat sipil, untuk meyakinkan rakyat bahwa nepotisme merupakan bentuk diskriminasi yang sangat melemahkan kapasitas bangsa untuk menghadapi masalahnya dengan fair.

Catatan Kaki:

Kevin Evans merupakan mantan Kepala Satuan Anti Korupsi (SAK) Badan Pelaksana Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi Aceh-Nias (BRR). Beliau merupakan founder dari

Disclaimer: bincang-bincang ini terjadi jauh sebelum tertangkap tangannya kepala SKK Migas dan hakim Mahkamah Konstitusi oleh KPK dalam kasus gratifikasi, sehingga beberapa aspek terkait dengan penegakan integritas di salah satu pilar tersukses demokrasi Indonesia dan kebijakan industri ekstraktif yang dikelola pemerintah tidak tersentuh

[1] – Indeks Persepsi Korupsi atau Corruption Perceptions Index disusun oleh Transparency International setiap tahunnya untuk mengukur tingkat korupsi sektor publik. Indeks tahun 2012 mengukur persepsi korupsi 176 negara dan wilayah di seluruh dunia, yang bisa diakses di

[2] – Indeks Negara Gagal atau The Failed States Index disusun oleh the Fund for Peace bekerjasama dengan majalah Foreign Policy menempatkan Indonesia pada peringkat 64 dari 177 negara (2011), 63 dari 178 negara (2012) dan 76 dari 178 negara (2013). Indeks Negara Gagal 2013 bisa diakses di

[3] – Menarik untuk dicermati bahwa Pakta Integritas merupakan salah satu tool yang diperkenalkan oleh Transparency International untuk mencegah korupsi dalam pengadaan barang/jasa pemerintah. Informasi lebih lanjut bisa didapatkan dari dan

Saya lampirkan disini Pakta Integritas dan Kesanggupan Karyawan BRR NAD-Nias yang pernah saya tanda tangani. Pakta Integritas dan Kesanggupan Karyawan BRR NAD-Nias

Older Entries