For the seventh blog in the #InnovMAMPU talks series, we spoke with Consortium of Global Concern Dan Kopel (CGCK) that is working to improve women’s role in policy making. CGCK recognizes that poor women can also be social innovators, so they are experimenting with approaches to document smart practices by poor women to be used as a policy making tool by local governments in Alor, Ende, and East Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara. In collaboration with the local government, CGCK is also testing ideas for villages that are friendlier towards women.
VIN: CGCK is working on improving the participation of women in local government in some of the most remote areas of NTT, Could you run us through the work you have been doing in NTT over the past year?
CGCK: There are two prototypes we worked on. First is to develop a Women friendly Village as this will create a conducive environment for the second prototype of Learning from Smart Practices of Poor Women to strengthen the policies of poverty reduction in Indonesia. We selected districts and villages based on agreed criteria with local governments and conducted a survey which records the perception of poor women for Women Friendly Criteria that supports and encourages women’s participation in the local governance process to help alleviate poverty, protect women from violence, and protecting women and children from violence. The results were presented at village and district level workshop and village regulations related to women friendly village were issued after this iterative process. For the second prototype, we talked to many parties at district and village level and found many stories on smart practices of poor women. The stories have been disseminated through various mediums, like newspapers, documentary, and radio broadcasts. In parallel to these activities, we have been conducting capacity building activities for various stakeholders. Capacity Building activities on management of household economy and entrepreneurship has resulted in positive changes:
- from no savings to receiving a bank loan
- Increased income
- Widening network of selling locations
VIN: CGCK is the only #Innovmampu partner who is working to actually identify an innovation that is already happening at the local level, and is presenting them as ‘smart practices’. How has CGCK come to classify a smart practice / micro-innovation?
CGCK: We classify their activities as smart practice because it answers the global and local issues without any help from donors, NGOs and government. All these poor women have used their own efforts with their own limitations to solve local problems. We refer to them as smart practices because they have resulted in positive outcomes such as lowered maternal and neonatal mortality, income generation for lower income groups, strengthening culture, and often modifying culture. All of their initiatives, or ‘smart practices’ make some change towards reducing poverty.
VIN: With the help of examples, could you talk a bit about the lessons in these stories for policy makers and other relevant stakeholders?
CGCK: Policy makers at the national and especially at the local level were proud of these initiatives when they heard how the Women friendly Village has developed an innovative village apparatus in terms of letting poor women attend village meetings, hearing their aspirations, or considering their aspirations during budget allocations.
For example, Randotonda head of Village in Ende District has appointed several women as heads of the neighbourhood. Five out of 12 neighbourhoods are headed by women, two village head staff are women. In the past, all these positions were held by men. In Wolwal village, a proposal submitted by poor women to rehabilitate market and improve road access to their garden has been accepted by the village, and has received allocation from the village fund. Both projects have been completed and made the women realize that their voices are heard, which never happened in the past. In Alor besar village, a proposal from underprivileged women to build a temporary school for the dropouts has been built. They have also renovated the village health center and use the center for medical checkups for mothers and children.
Policy makers heard all these stories at the national workshop and Ministry of Village Director will make a decree on this Women Friendly Village to be applied for Indonesia. Regulation from this ministry that a village governing body has to include women will lead to atleast 372,000 women being a part of the village governing body. Consortium can claim this as one of the results of working with Ministry of Village. Local government wants to replicate this Women Friendly Criteria to all villages sequentially.
VIN: What are the various ways in which these stories are being captured? What were the challenges in identifying and documenting stories?
CGCK: The stories are being captured in various ways based on knowledge of local facilitators such as interviews, columns, pamphlets. They are being disseminated through various online media, magazines and newspapers, and have discussed these stories at a workshop held with national level decision makers. At the village level we have published a bulletin with these stories, and they have also been shared through local radio broadcasts at the district level. In addition to this we disseminate these stories over our social media platforms. One such story that of Mrs Aran, was broadcast on Metro TV, which has one of the highest viewership in Indonesia. She has been delivering healthy babies, ensuring healthy mothers for about more than 250 cases without a single case of death since 1982. She was also presented at the Bakti national workshop and as a speaker receives 10 times applause from the audience.
It’s challenging when you’re collecting or trying to identify stories that are ‘smart’, as not all stories are good stories. They have different aspects and highlights. Another challenge has been in verifying them to other stakeholders and their beneficiaries, and this is not an easy process. While documenting the stories, some women dress up in their costume in preparation for photographs despite being requested to act naturally. It is hard to get what we want. Time has also been a challenge as it is time consuming to identify and document each story across a wide range of locations.
VIN: CGCK has been working very closely with government both in the capacity of a partner, but in some capacities looks at them as a user. Could you share your experience with engaging government toward the success of your work?
CGCK: Engaging with government at national and local level started when our interventions were at a concept level. We discussed about the concept, locations, as well our approach to developing Women Friendly Village criteria. We disseminate results of surveys, testing criteria results of local government and villages and asked for their opinions. In addition to this, we ensure that our project supports the district’s vision and mission, and builds relevant capacity in line with the needs of the district. For example, we improve capacity for police, or the attorney for violence against women and children cases. We also invited decision makers to go to the field to experience, feel and to understand the situation, first hand. Bappenas staff spent five days in the poorest villages in NTT. The head of district and head of local parliament members, two highly positioned government officials, were invited to observe our activities on field so they can get an understanding of what and how people think.
We approach this project as owned not by the consortium alone, but by local government as well. We never paid an honorarium to local government to participate in this work. We have attempted to set a precedent that this is their project too.
VIN: Could you talk about some of your early notions of innovation, and your experience of the innovation fund workshop held in October 2014? How has your understanding of innovation change over the past year?
CGCK: The innovation fund workshop has enriched our approach in terms of working with various media, and closely integrating our approach. In the national workshop, we invited fellow Innovation Fund peers who are working in NTT, such as OTMI, YSKK and Kopernik to interact directly with local government and local villages.
Our understanding of innovation has grown from something that involves sophisticated technology or something that has never been done before, elsewhere, to something that is useful for society, made from limited resources to solve problems and provide results. The poor women we work with remind of this. Let us discuss, for example, the case of Mrs Aran. She is 70 years old, and she has been delivering healthy babies, ensuring healthy mothers for about more than 250 cases without a single case of death since 1982. She earns less than a dollar a day by selling cakes to schools. She runs her posyandu to ensure that her village has no malnutrition, and that no mothers and babies die during delivery. She receives no salary from the government and not even fee from the mothers she helps. Her motivation is to draw on her talents in adverse situations. She said that if a family comes to her and the mother has time to wait, she will take the mother to the health centre, but if the mother’s water has broken, she will do her best to assist.
VIN: Could you please reflect on some of your learnings from the Innovation Fund program? To what extent, and in what way, will they inform CGCK’s approach to future projects?
CGCK: The Innovation program is great because it offers flexibility as the understanding of a problem could grow and evolve over time. It allows for mistakes, and challenges creativity. This is one result of success. Secondly, it is great to have other resource persons to question, to discuss and find solutions to strengthen results since we can learn from anybody. CKS contributions and Innovation teams such as Vina and Maesy are high value of us. Another aspect is to learn from other innovation projects about many inspiring stories and activities.