Event / Workshop

Published: 28/02/2005

Acehnese women in particular and Acehnese in general, have been suffering from long standing conflict and from poverty. Referring to Human Development Index (HDI) collaboratively published by Center of Statistical Bureau or Biro Pusat Statistik (BPS), National Development Planning Body or Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional (Bappenas), and UNDP, 4 out of 14 districts/municipalities registered in Aceh have very low Index, that is below 300 (the poorest area has an Index of 341); 5 out of 14 have Index above 200 which are still included in very poor category; 2 above 100 are included in moderate category; and 3 above 100 are included in good category. The fact has been an ironic situation is that gross domestic income or PDRB of the year 2000 of North Aceh is of one of the highest in Indonesia (incorporating oil and natural gas), amounts to 53,079. After long sufferings then came the natural disaster: Tsunami.

Tsunami has brought vast change to Aceh. Public facilities and infrastructures, secure life, and the prosperities were all gone in ruined condition. Though the reconstruction of public facilities and infrastructures has been the main agenda of Central Government and International Institutions, it was not accompanied with awareness building for Acehnese regarding the importance of peoples’ participation in directing reconstruction processes. Public services improvement, strengthening life security, and enhancement of peoples’ welfare should have been the agenda of Acehnese and supported financially by Central Government.

The damage and loss in Aceh have aroused peoples’ good will to do something to help relieving the burden of Acehnese survivors. But it should be noted at first place that Acehnese survivors know better about what they really need. Therefore we need to realize that what we call ‘burden’ to relieve is the one that comes from Acehnese or local peoples, particularly those of children and women, not the one that comes from our mind.

Refers to experiences of areas that have gone through quite similar situation with that of Aceh, the reconstruction of public facilities and infrastructures can be the method to heal physical, psychological, and social situations of survivors. Through such a method, the victims of disaster could rearrange their life, their housings, and social institutions. In addition, they can also recover the psychological conditions through interacting with members of the same gampong (village) in managing resources that left over. Therefore, what other parties can do is to support these efforts through providing facilities, equipments and other supports.

By incorporating Acehnese survivors in the reconstruction processes, the space for local wisdom and local-based approach can be delivered in a good manner throughout all gampongs in Aceh.

Initiatives to Carry out

Learning from the experiences of Aceh (Acehnese’s long standing sufferings are not only caused by Tsunami) peoples’ participation in reconstruction can be done. The efforts to rebuild Aceh have been carried out since the area was still under the Military Operation Region or Daerah Operasi Militer (DOM). Some initiatives have been carried out to prepare citizens to rebuild Aceh after DOM era. These initiatives involved representatives of 20 districts in Aceh representing peasants, fishermen, religious leaders, executives and legislatures. 30 % of representatives are women.

Women should be involved in the reconstruction of Aceh from the impact of tsunami disaster. By now, there have been 400,000 refugees in Aceh, 25% of it is adult, and the rest are children. But there has been no data yet about how many women being refugees, including the data of adult women and female children.
Some initiatives have been done in terms of overcoming the impact of tsunami. Many parties such as academicians, religious leaders, and civilians are working together to find out best ways to rebuild Aceh. Such initiatives are supported by national and international organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations. But it seems that those efforts are still carried out separately.

In that sense, it is important to think about a common strategy for reconstruction of Aceh. Who are the parties to reconstruction of Aceh? Who do we need to involve? Whose interest do they represent? What about the interests of women and children; do they are represented well in those efforts?

On 24–25 February, 2005, some women organizations of Aceh gathered in Medan to initiate an effort to rebuild Aceh by providing a strategy for social reconstruction involving women’s voices. It was expected that this effort can be carried out in integrative way with those that already took place to reconstruct Aceh.

Output of the Meeting in Medan, 24–25 February 2005

The meeting began with information sharing among various resource persons regarding their knowledge and experiences in facing post-tsunami situation, including in education and health sectors, on religious views on women, and in various efforts by women empowerment office which has coordinated activities related to the involvement of women in reconstruction of Aceh. After resource persons’ presentation, the next sessions were:

1. To identify problems and issues that very urgent for the time being to be carried out related to women interests.

2. To identify existing potentials.

The result of identification was used as the basis for further discussions on problems and issues of health, economy, and legal matters that women have been facing so far and possibly still face it in the future.

After identification of problems and potentials through group discussions, some strategic issues that of common concern came out:

1. The need for comprehensive segregated data which reflects the number of men and women, female and male children in evacuation. There is also an urgent need for data of problems faced by women that got direct impact of tsunami and by women that got indirect impact, incorporating information on the efforts already done and those that will be done to involve women in social reconstruction of Aceh.

2. The need for institutional building to be information and communication center for social reconstruction of Aceh.

3. The need for human resources development of people that will participate in incorporating women in social reconstruction of Aceh

4. The need for advocating women’s problems in Aceh both the problems resulted directly and indirectly from tsunami

5. The need for developing monitoring and evaluation mechanism of collaborative programs.


Discussion of Strategy for Incorporating Women into Social Reconstruction Process of Aceh

The efforts of incorporating women into social reconstruction can be done in the fields below:

1. Organization, to consider the framework of women empowerment by scrutinizing some aspects such as:

  • Does the program really fulfill practical needs of women?
  • Do women have access to planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of the program? 
  • To what level are women involved in the efforts of social reconstruction? 
  • Could the program enhance critical understanding of women? 
  • Do women have control to themselves and to their entire involvement in social reconstruction? 

2. Network and coordination: what kind of network and coordination that have been settled out and that will be developed in terms of women involvement for social reconstruction of Aceh?

3. Advocacy: what activities that considered to be appropriate for fulfilling strategic and practical needs of women in Aceh?


Following group discussion, there was plenary of “Strategy for Incorporating Women in Social Reconstruction of Aceh”. After this session there was another group discussion on “Strategy for Action in Identified Issues”. The last session was formulation of stages of implementation of activities to do immediately.

To formulate stages of implementation, there was a discussion to address some questions:

  • What can be done together?
  • What is the most appropriate institution for the recent situation?
  • What is the time frame to agree together?

Next Steps

It was expected that the result of the meeting in February 2005 could offer a strategy for social reconstruction of Aceh where women voices are incorporated in the whole process. Below is the schematic diagram that was agreed to create an efficient works division in formulating work plan and strategy to be communicated with wider groups for broadening the movement of women participation in social reconstruction of Aceh.

Schematic diagram

Strategy for women representation in Social Reconstruction of Aceh

There are four suggested steps for involving women’s voices in social reconstruction of Aceh:

1. Segregated data and information on the number of women and men, male and female children suffered from the impact of tsunami; data on their needs; information on initiatives and concepts related to activities already carried out; data on specification of areas of refugees; and data on women’s problems related indirectly to tsunami.

In addition, there is a need for segregated data on economic and health problems and potentials to be developed after tsunami for women and men. What are the problems peoples’ facing after the tsunami? What are the potentials that can be used to overcome those problems? What kind of legal problems that exist today and what actions to do to answer those questions? A good example is the question about lands rights and related documents as well as the regulations that can be used to address this problem. What about the position of women and men in those regulations on property ownership?

In fact, PP NAD Bureau has begun to work on the initiatives with the support from some international organizations, started just after the tsunami. But, there is a need for other support whether from NGOs and governmental institutions to make the initiatives more effective in providing more comprehensive data and information.
Data and information collection is the first step the women group would like to do in order to provide a comprehensive data base to be the basis of their work.

2. Capacity Building

It was realized that in order to run common efforts to rebuild Aceh, there is a need for capacity building for related stakeholders.

Database could provide the needs of all parties in terms of capacity building. It is possibly about the capability of developing a program or about the capability of carrying out activities and doing monitoring and evaluation of common programs.

3. Advocacy

The effort to rebuild Aceh should be promoted and explained to all parties in Aceh and outside Aceh. From such advocacy work it was expected to get more thoughts on reconstruction of Aceh to complement existing efforts. The core intention is to find out a way to develop rules and regulations for managing fairly the resources that left over for the sake of women and men.


4. Policy Study

It was considered that existing qanuns (regulations) need further study and consideration in terms of the incorporation of all parties’ interests, including women’s interest. Women groups pointed out, for instance, that their voices need to be heard in formulating blue print of reconstruction of Aceh, as well as in the making of regulationgs or qanuns that aimed at finding solution of post tsunami problems both for women and men. 


Participant organizations of the workshop

10. DPRD Kota Komisi Anggaran