MAMPU – Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction

A programme designed to understand and address issues relating to Indonesian women affected by migrant work.
mampu project indonesia

Project Summary:
A programme designed to understand and address issues relating to Indonesian women affected by migrant work.


Project Location:

Project Managers:
Jilna Shah
Becky Warnock
Kate Watson 

Jenny Matthews
Tom Elkins
Becky Warnock
Kate Watson

Volunteer Facilitation Support:
Altaire Cambata

MAMPU (Overall partner)
Migrant Care Perkumpulan Panca Karsa (PKK)
Yayasan Kesehatan Untuk Semua (YKS) 

Australian Aid Program in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Featured Image:
© Dienun Atika 2015 | PhotoVoice | MAMPU | ‘Mampu “I have now been trusted by the community to become photographer in their weddings.”

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Project description:
PhotoVoice worked in partnership as part of a programme designed to understand and address issues relating to Indonesian women affected by migrant work. This project, ‘Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction’, or Mampu, is part of a series of activities designed to help increase access to jobs and social protection, improve conditions for overseas labour migration, and combat violence against women.  To help contribute to this programme, PhotoVoice delivered workshops with 24 women affected by migrant work on two Indonesian islands; West Nusa Tenggara (Central Lombok District) and East Nusa Tenggara (Lembata District).

The issue: 
Mampu estimates suggest that there are 1.5 million Indonesian women working in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia each year, both legally and illegally. In Indonesia, the overseas movement of labour has been crucial to the survival of the rural economy, but the rights of workers who are travelling outside of Indonesia and their families left behind are often forgotten and ignored by the state. Subsequently, community members often do not know what their rights are or how to access them. There is a critical need to build community awareness and advocacy skills so that migrant workers are empowered to exercise their rights.

PhotoVoice used its participatory photography methodology to work with communities in Indonesia, building skills to ensure their voices are heard and their experiences are understood. Specifically targeting women who are affected by migrant work, the project provided tools which helped communities to speak out about their experiences, as well as better understand their rights. The project also provided valuable insight for local and national organisations who are working to address these issues, and provided vital case studies for campaigning work with policy makers and legislators. 

In February 2015, the PhotoVoice team began in Jakarta by training staff from local partner organisations in participatory photography theory and practice, providing ongoing skills which will be utilised by the organisations in their ongoing engagement work. The local staff also shared their insights into the issues affecting migrant workers on the two islands with PhotoVoice staff, helping to shape the design of the project and workshops. The team travelled to the islands of Nusa Tenggara Barat and Nusa Tenggara Timur to deliver two weeks of community workshops with 12 female participants on each island, all of whom had direct or indirect experience of migrant work. Over the course of the workshops, the team created a meaningful and safe space where the women could share the issues which affected them, and explore these through photography.

Project Outputs: 
The workshops provided powerful insight into the experiences of women affected by migrant work by using photography, and helped to build communications, photography and advocacy skills. Two local exhibitions took place at the end of the workshops, celebrating the work that the women had created, and also raising awareness about issues within their communities.  These case studies will be used as advocacy tools by Mampu at the National Conference for Parliamentarians in Indonesia, taking place in June. The outputs created by the women will help inform and contribute towards ongoing awareness raising activities on issues affecting migrant workers in Indonesia. The project has also left a lasting legacy of engagement both with the organisations working within the communities, and also the participants themselves. 

Project Updates:  
In December 2015, Projects Managers Becky Warnock and Kate Watson returned to Lemmata and Lombok to conduct follow up field work which focused on the evaluation of the project. The participatory evaluation workshops captured the experiences of Local Monitors and provided insight into the impact of the PhotoVoice project in MAMPU’s ongoing advocacy and communications work, informing recommendations for the further future incorporation of the photovoice methodology in future MAMPU programme activities.

On both islands, substantial progress had been made in addressing issues relating to economic migration and changes had occurred across a variety of levels within the community. PhotoVoice images had played an important role in participants’ advocacy work and had provided a powerful tool to lobby policy makers to provide better protections for migrant workers. All three villages on Lombok have implemented village-level legislation protecting migrants and participants’ interests for reform of the National Law on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families were presented to national parliament, the women’s parliament, policy and decision-makers at the national Migrant Workers Jamboree.  

A number of participants had utilised their new skills to both enhance current economic activities and create new opportunities for income generation. Participants reported increased respect from their  communities as result of these new business ventures and opportunities to photograph local events. Those involved with the project reported increased empowerment from the project, stating that they felt more enabled to play a larger role in decision-making around issues affecting migrant workers, and agreed that the project had increased their confidence to ‘voice out’ and advocate for the rights of migrant workers. 

“I will use my new skills to map potential employment opportunities in the area. There should be more information disseminated to migrant families about alternatives to migrant work. This can be easily shared through photography. This makes me more determined to improve and attack the issues.” – Participant, Lombok

Local partner staff agreed that the photographs produced by Local Monitors had provided their organisation with greater insight into the issues affecting migrant workers and  stated that the work provided a useful tool for their organisation to communicate information with partner and/or other organisations working in the field. 

“Before I was a simple housewife, but now that I am part of PhotoVoice, I feel that my messages are being communicated beyond me and I am making a difference.” – Participant, Lembata

Project Gallery:

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