Capacity Building / Training

Published: 09/09/2004

Social research using feminist theory is so far very limited in Indonesia. Scarcity of feminist research institute is one of the reasons, while shortage of reference books in Indonesian Language, and that the researcher specializing in feminist study is also very little in number are another reasons. The fourth reason might be the different character of this field in the application of feminist theory in comparison to other social research justified as having positivistic paradigm. This area needs sensitivity in carrying it out and sustainability of training on feminist research to achieve appropriate skills. Therefore, training for researchers interested in using feminist theory in social studies has been an urgent need to be addressed immediately.

Feminist research has three principle aspects: Philosophy of knowledge and social paradigms as the basis of understanding for participants in order that they could map the place of feminist research in social paradigms; Feminist theory as a means of social analysis; and feminist methodology as a guideline for designing, carrying out, and analysing data.

As its focus is to carry out study in political, social, and cultural fields by means of gender analysis and feminist methodology, Women Research Institute (WRI) has a need to share knowledge and experiences with its local researcher in the issue of the Impact of Regional Autonomy to Political Participation of Women in Local Politics, where WRI has involved many local researchers to be its partners.

Training of Feminist Research for Local Partner was intended to provide local researcher with capability of analyzing data, field findings, and to develop conceptual study on women and gender into social studies in Indonesia.

This training was delivered through seminar with resource person, discussion, and practices. Resource persons to provide materials in the training were:

  1. Dr. Kristi Poerwandari (Head of Postgraduate Women Studies University of Indonesia)
  2. Sita Aripurnami, M.Sc (Executive Director of WRI)
  3. Edriana Noerdin, MA (Program Director of WRI)
  4. Myra Diarsi, MA (Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan and Boards of founder of WRI)
  5. Research Team of WRI, Jakarta

Participants of the training were local researcher of WRI in Banda Aceh, Solok, Menado, Kupang, Mataram, Bali, Kebumen, and Pontianak.

The training was arranged into three sessions for three days.

First Session

Introduction for participants so that they know better each other. The session was underwent through focus group discussion (FGD) directed by facilitator and WRI Team was to share their research experience and to discuss some aspects of feminist research that have been done in the research.

The objectives of the session:

  1. To share information and experiences in doing feminist research including the trips, obstacles, and assistances:

    • Mapping the back ground and capacity of participants as researcher and used it as basic information for consultation and assignment in the third day. 
    • Mapping supporting factors and obstacles found in doing research and used it as materials for evaluating methodology.
    • Mapping local institutions that supported and obstructed research.
  2. To share experiences of carrying out feminist research.

  3. To evaluate methodology and research instruments and used it as materials for reconsidering the methodology in the third day.

  4. To get participants’ expectation from this training.

Second Session

Presenting basic materials of feminist research

  1. Introduction: social research paradigms (Positivistic, Interpretive and Critical)

  2. What is feminist research, its characteristics, and its qualitative and quantitative approach

  3. Typology of feminist research: Feminist Interview research, Feminist Ethnography, and Feminist Content Analysis

  4. Data collecting techniques through in-depth interviews, FGD, and quantitative data analyses

  5. Postmodernism and multicultural feminist theory


The objectives of this session:

  1. To understand and to be able to apply Feminist Interview Research, Feminist Ethnography, and Feminist Content Analysis

  2. To analyze social research data using postmodernist and multiculturalists feminist perspective


Third Session

Training on the application of theory and concepts. Participants were invited to analyze data and findings
The objectives of this session:

  1. To answer WRI’s research questions.

  2. Participant and WRI Team to analyze data the local reasearher found in each localilites.

  3. To share views on feminist perspectives of research and socialization of WRI’s ideas of feminist research.


September 2, 2004

Training on Feminist Research has brought out some portraits below:

  1. Various educational back grounds of local researchers have influenced much the process of data collection in the field.

  2. It was important for researchers to use feminist perspective to identify gender inequality in communities and to be analyzing tool for elaborating data. Some researchers still faced handicaps in identifying problems in their research areas.

  3. Some researchers still held positivistic paradigm stressing on the distance between subject and object of research. While on the other side, feminist perspective addresses the importance of taking side, for this view believes that there is no research which free from subjectivity. In other words, feminist perspective always questions about “objectivity” of scientific research.

  4. Taking side on women is an important aspect for disclosing gender inequality that so far has impaired women.

  5. Therefore, providing feminist perspectives and theories was an important requirement and need to be continually filed down in experience of doing research so that the step such as data collection would be able to accommodate the situation and experiences of women as important as those of men.

  6. The availability of supporting reference books needed an extra consideration in order that feminist methodology applicable in the research.

  7. The final expected results of the research was improvement of knowledge and skill of researchers so that they could identify the shortage of data and problems women have been facing in other to encourage women political participation at local level.


September 3 – 4, 2004

Session 1 (Review materials of previous day)

  1. The core of activity was information and experience sharing to evaluate the process of research in each site.

  2. Grouping the issues based on field findings and interview records, but not on interview guideline.

  3. Writing report would be discussed in the second workshop.

  4. Participants thought that the rigorous discussion on feminist theory was a valuable thing

  5. Local researchers felt hard to find related reference books and so needed website/email as communication media bridging the gap between WRI’s researcher and local researcher. But other problem needed to mention was not all participants has access to internet, such as those from Solok.

  6. For the region where no university available (eg. Gianyar), the most appropriate resource persons were those who have done research in such region. Other consideration was that being capable resource person not really has tight relevancy with professional background.


Session 2 – The Dimensions of Women Experiences and Feminist Research

The second session was continuation of first session where problems arose in the first session would be answered and where feminist theory and its application would be discussed specifically.

In detail, the explanation is as follows:

When people heard the word ‘feminism’ they usually tend to get it in negative sense. There are views that feminists are those who break the social order, radical, against human destiny, vicious, disharmony, against religion, and want to be men.

What is feminism? It is a perspective which considers women as human being. It tries to answer problems failed to explain by social thinker as the time. Liberal feminist were those who initially attempted to encourage women to get equal chance in public sphere. But women’s problem are not only those that of public sphere. It is also in domestic area. The well known example is domestic violation (KDRT, or kekerasan dalam rumah tangga). In 1970s, radical feminist came to surface to criticize women’s sexuality problems which dominated by men.

Feminism initially came forth in 18th century (Mary W.) as a respond to social life that time which placed women only at domestic affairs, where no public laws sided with women, including in educational sector. Equality and justice in educational sector had been the stepping stone of liberal feminist struggle that time; and it continues to these days. Angel, carried out a wide range study on economic sector since prehistoric age until modern era (socialist feminist) and demonstrated that there are factors that still hitherto exist. Women labor was an example. 


In 1970s there was rape case in America which had been central issue of feminist thought led to the focus on sexuality. It proceeds until today and demonstrates its relevancy to women reproductive issues. Beside that, there has been third world feminists sounding the domination of developed countries to developing countries manifested in, for instance, contraception. Industrial waste that poisoned women in third world is another example of domination, such as in the case of Buyat Gulf.

Multicultural feminist theory is now used mostly as analysis tool: there are various local values which are different from, let us say, Jakarta for example. In Papua, when the husband dies, his wife should bury herself in mud. Multicultural feminist appreciate local values while strongly holds non-violent and non-oppress universal values. It should be noted that the core theme of feminist struggle is justice, not life style. It considers women’s problem as something which is stratified and not linear.

Feminism is always being a respond to social reality that marginalized women. Much of phenomena considered are those of Western societies, however, there are similarities throughout the world in its context. What usually caught by many people is life style that mistakenly understood as representing feminist thought. One of the participants was asking about what feminism is. Is it women emancipation or is it a social and cultural change in order that there would be gender equality in the society? Does it address the phenomena of injustice? What is feminist movement? What is its orientation? What is gender? What is binary opposition? What change does it pursue? Clearly that feminism not only pursues a change in its loose meaning, but a real change which started from a change in social structure and paradigm. And a tool for analyzing various issues is gender perspective.

So, what is gender?
There are various explanations. Gender is a socio-cultural construct which differentiate sex to be a distinction in social relation and structure between men and women. It implicates on power relation in societies manifested in discrimination of women and resulted in the marginalization of women in getting access to social, economic, and political resources.

Below is a table demonstrates gender as socio-cultural construct:

1. Characteristic

Women: mild tempered, obedient person, not smart/irrational, passive

Men: Strong, rational, Active to make decision, having leadership

2. Sphere

Women: Domestic, private

Men: Public sphere


3. Nature of work

Women: Reproductive (additional income)

Men: Productive

4. Image

Women: Sub-ordination (under control)

Men: Control

  1. Stand point of feminist view is social reality and the points in the table are changeable but obstructed by mind-set which has been a social construct. 

  2. People show up resistances against gender for it connected tightly to themselves in term of power relation. It proves that the personal is political.

  3. The relevancy of training today with feminist research is on its objective to uncover power relation between women and men in the context of regional autonomy, starting from women’s experiences that so long have been voiceless. 


Identification of Local issues

1. Solok

  • Problem related to adat: Adat places women at high status but having no right to decide on inheritance and family treasure.
  • Problem related to religion: There is local policy on women obligation to wear Moslem clothes.

2. Manado

  • Trafficking of women: There have been Local regulation and task force to address this issue 
  • Violation: By men to women and fice versa 
  • Education 
  • Women in local culture


  • The issuance of Local Regulation on trafficking of women should be considered in connection to existing political situation. The content must be reviewed well. The issue of violation needs to be explored further.

3. Gianyar

  • Gianyar is well known for its strong adat roles. 
  • There is a perception that women tend to stay away from political sphere 
  • Women usually give priority to public interests 
  • Lack of organization working for women 
  • Not many people know about regional autonomy and its impact 
  • Economy
  • Reproductive health


  • Point two, needs further exploration; it was a similar case to that of Solok
  • Related to social relation, women have no organization to make decision while the existing organizations tend to avoid women. A researcher should find out the connection between various variables.
  • Balinese women are considered powerful. Is there any issue related to work dominated by women? There has been a change: men take over women roles in domestic affairs and women work in public area (traditional trading)
  • Is there any conflict in domestic and public space? Need to find wider area to make comparison.
  • Related to point c: In Musbangdes, women never get involved and their aspirations considered being public interest. There are 3 programs prepared by women’s meeting which promote women sensitive programs.

4. Mataram

  • Education (drop-out and married in teenager period; elopes) 
  • Economy (women’s works)
  • Domestic violation or KDRT (data from LBH APIK)
  • Slogan of a City commonly sounds religious terms: “Mataram Kota Ibadah” means Mataram is a ‘city of devotion to God’ and this slogan would be settled through local regulation.
  • Draft of Local Regulation on Anti-sinful acts; one of the provision stated that “For those who still wandering around hotels after 10.00 pm would be arrested”. 

Regional autonomy is understood and explored as designation of local peoples to be legislature, executives, or judicature; leadership should be on local people’s hand.



  • Allocation of job opportunity for women workers (TKW or tenaga kerja wanita) should be accompanied by control of minimum regional salary (UMR, upah minimum regional).
  • It should be studied further about related issues and its interconnection.


5. Kupang

  • Culture: Patriarchal social system: marriage and dowry are decided by those who have the status ‘uncle’ in family bloodline. 
  • Religion: verses of Holy Scripture which discriminate women, among else those that insist subordination of women to men. 
  • Domestic violence: growing higher every year in the form of rapes, incest, and beating 
  • RPK: Women know it from media and are aware to announce 
  • Health: No regulation on women’s health, AKI was high as well as health cost. 
  • Education: Women usually have the level of junior and senior high school and rarely get higher level. Most of Scholarships for Master Degree are for men. 
  • Regional Budget or APBD
  • Empowerment


  • How does religion influence the issue? Interview showed that in the case of dowry the most influential factor was culture. 
  • Marriage under religious rule has nothing to do with material values of dowry. It should be found out the connection between dowry, religion and culture 
  • Marriage under adat rule is legitimate though not follow State rule yet. 
  • Is there any similar pattern?
  • Is there any adat revitalization in the era of Regional Autonomy? There was a change regarding dowry. 
  • Does dowry trigger the cases of living together without marriage? Yes

6. Kebumen

  • Culture (Islam and Java)
  • Public participation

7. Banda Aceh

  • Women leadership was noted in the history 
  • Interpretation and implementation of Syariah 
  • Education 
  • The place of women and children in public sphere 
  • Tendency among women to work out of Aceh 
  • Feminist interpretation 
  • Formulation of regional budget or APBD
  • Impact of conflict to women: female patients in insane asylum exceeds the capacity

8. Pontianak

  • Education 
  • Local women movement: establishment of CV ( a kind of business legal form) for women
  • Political aspiration to have local regulation on migrant workers and on taking leave on the first day of menstruation 
  • Adat institution has not involved women in its decision making processes and only mobilize women in social disturbances 
  • Health issue

General discussion

1. Scope of research cover the issue of:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Regional budget or APBD
  • Empowerment economic rights in formal and informal work; and political rights in access to justice and women movement 
  • Revitalization of adat and religion 
  • Violence against women in public and domestic space 
  • Impact of conflicts


2. Culture should be taken as general explanation to understand phenomena in local discourses

Plan of assistance

The plan was directed to (i) identify lack of information and (ii) discuss important aspects.

The training on feminist research demonstrated that the educational background of local researcher has strongly put an effect to field data collection. Most of local researchers do not understand how important feminist perspective in identifying problems of gender inequality in the societies and how important it is to analyze data in hand. Therefore they can not identify the real problems in respective sites of research.

Researchers still follow positivistic paradigm which point out the distance between subject and object of research, however, feminist perspective addresses the notion of taking side and that there no objective research per se. Taking side means stands in the side of women who have been marginalized for a long time.

Therefore, providing knowledge on feminist perspectives and theories is an urgency and need to be sharpened in research practices in order that accommodating situations and experiences of women as important data as that of men to be scrutinized further. Reference books and papers are also very important to support the application of feminist methodology.

Expected results of the training was improvement of knowledge and skill of local researchers in terms of their capability of identifying problems and data related to women experiences in order to encourage political participation of women at local level.