Adding to the series of #InnovMAMPU, here is our fifth blog, where we spoke with Yayasan Walang Perempuan, who is working to improve women’s role in policy making. Yayasan Walang Perempuan is working with five indigenous communities in Ambon to increase women’s participation invillage governance and planning by pioneering codification of gender-sensitive Adat or indigenous laws in the Moluccas.
VIN: What were your earlier assumptions of the innovation fund workshop and how has your understanding of innovation fund workshop changed over the year?
Walang: Initially we assumed that MAMPU partners will have to change their perspective, approach, and conventional training methods at the Innovation Fund Workshop. But as we progressed, we learnt that its more about learning as we experiment with multiple implementation approaches. In our perception, the partners should be given more freedom to work or innovate, so that the project achievements can be achieved with better efficacy.
It was challenging for us to identify innovative methods and implement new strategies, methods and approaches, for the capacity building program, as we are not shaping “things” or “items”. We are shaping and molding human beings and encouraging them to think and up skill themselves, in order to achieve project objective. Shaping characters and mindsets makes the project more challenging as the demand to innovate and think “out of the box” is strong. Walang Perempuan must be fearless in order to change the perception of Adat laws, which are “unwritten” in nature to a written applicative guideline.
VIN: Walang is working to formulate village regulation in five adat villages in order to increase participation of women in the village governance and planning. Could you please tell us a bit about why and how capacity building is so central to Walang’s solution?
Walang: One of the reasons for the lack of women’s participation in the village planning and administration is their lack of understanding about their rights in decision making, means of approaching village administration, and low awareness about planning materials and techniques. In addition to that, decision makers in the village, such as Raja and Saniri, also lack knowledge about women’s rights, and drafting of Negeri (adat village) regulation which accommodates women’s rights. We believe that our capacity building strategy , which provides training, workshop, soft advocacy, mentoring/assistance and discussion, is the best means to provide awareness, skills and as well as knowledge about women’s right in village planning. We see the importance of innovation in capacity building to device methods, in a manner that they don’t feel forced or pressured to change their thinking regarding women’s rights and they consequently create regulations that accommodate these rights in the Adat village (Negeri) regulation, which has never existed. A strategic communication strategy is critical for them to open their minds on how important it is to provide women their space in Adat laws, and then conduct capacity building for women, in order to ease and understand the content of Adat Laws. The capacity building activities should be more in the form of games, simulation, role playing and case studies, open to interpretation to all groups involved.
VIN: Various CSO’s have done a lot of work, trying to build capacity within village communities around a variety of themes. Walang Perempuan has applied a prototyping approach to capacity building, and employed some creative methods of training. Could you talk a little bit about these methods and the process of designing these trainings?
Walang: The training conducted by Walang Perempuan utilizes a varietyof methods. The facilitators of Walang Perempuan gathered/ created various types of methods that are suitable with the local community’s character. From assessments of training methods, we have learned that the Ambon community really enjoys singing, role playing, entertaining techniques such as dancing, drawing (particularly for those who are less vocal), and story-telling. Based on the choice of these methods the facilitators combine them for training material resulting in formation of role play exercises. These exercises became a platform for women to speak up and catalysed change in the mindsets of Adat leaders who initially didn’t agree onto the role of women in decision making. Prior to presenting the materials, facilitators discuss the method plan with Walang Perempuan’s management for review and evaluation in order to find weaknesses or disadvantages which could be improved for the following training sessions across locations.
VIN: Given Walang is working across 5 traditional villages, what were the challenges in prototyping solutions across different village contexts and multiple stakeholder sets?
Walang: There were various challenges in prototyping solutions, and major one was changing the mindset of Adat elders to accept the role of women in decision making and increasing Adat women’s confidence to sit in the Saniri Nagiri, the Adat institution. We also struggled in identifying new approaches for the public in order to get their opinion/say for the workshops. The other main challenge for us was to fulfill the community’s expectation, which exceeded from the stated project log frame’s target like facilitating village’s RPJM (Medium Term Development plan), RAD and RAPBdes (Village Budget Plan), as well as conducting advocacy of village fund to the Ambon City Administration. It has been challenging for us to scale our efforts, and document Adat regulations and codifications of Adat laws.
VIN: Could you tell us about your plans to scale this work up to 25 other villages within Ambon on the request of the district government of Ambon? Based on this, how would you say your relationship with government has evolved over the year?
Walang: We are in dialogue with Municipal Government for the facilitation of village regulation in other villages. We are looking for donor support, as we do not have enough resources for operations management and are hoping if MAMPU’s program pattern can be adopted some way in order to continue our intervention.Walang Perempuan will make the existing strategy and activities into a set guideline for all future programs. This will enable sharing of learnings through communication to various parties who bear the same mission and will also aid documentation of practices.
The dynamics of our relationship with the Ambon City Administration are currently very good. Ambon City Administration is very appreciative of our work, particularly with the success of drafting the Village RPJM along with RAD which correlates to the village fund, as currently scheduled by the central government. Aside from the city government, Walang Perempuan has also established relations with Ambon City DPRD (Regional People’s Representative Council) particularly with the Special Committee Team on the Revision of Regional Regulation.Walang team is requested to assist in drafting a comparison of the said Regional Regulation because of our experience in working with Adat Villages.
VIN: After going through the majority of this program, could you tell us what it is about your work that you think is innovative?
Walang: In our opinion, the capacity building process for Adat women and community has been really innovative. We helped with women’s right and Adat village planning respectively. Through this program, Walang Perempuan was able to produce Village RPJM, Village Administration Work Plan and Budget Plan which were immediately used to obtain village fund from the Ambon City Administration. In the process of compiling this Adat Regulation, we were able to implement various approaches to open the mindset of village stakeholders. Ultimately, this unique codification of adat laws and village regulation was successfully produced and legalized at the village level.