As an agrarian country, agriculture is the main source of livelihood for Indonesians, where almost 60% of land are managed by women. Women have a very good role and knowledge in every stage of forest and land management, but due to the strong patriarchal culture in Indonesia, their knowledge and experience are often not taken into account in various governance and decision-making processes on land. In fact, we often find that women’s rights to land are neglected.
For women, forests and land are not only economically valuable. More broadly, forests and land have social, and cultural values that are part of women’s existence. But along with the increasing number of tenure and land grabs, these values are increasingly eroded. Agrarian reforms that prioritize gender justice are still far from society’s expectations, especially women.
Such conditions make women more marginalized because women do not have access and control over all decisions taken by village governments where most of them are held by men. Women are often unable to address issues related to land rights and management, where there are chances to discuss planning, utilization, monitoring and evaluation in development.
Behind this bitter reality, in some areas have begun to appear the figure of women as leaders of the community land and environmental defense. Struggling in their own way, they manage to improve the current situation, especially in forestry. They lead communities, villages and communities to fight and strengthen efforts on land and forest management.
Thirty-five years of development in Indonesia does not necessarily provide benefits to women and men from village communities. Massive forest destruction since 2000-2012 of 15, million hectares (Journal of Science, 2013) has caused structural poverty to strengthen in the area surrounding the village forest. Indonesia Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) notes that until 2014 the number of households in the forest area are 8,643,228 inhabitants or about 29% of the total number of households in Indonesia. On the other hand, there are 17.77 million rural poor or 14.17% of the total population of Indonesia.
However, within the community there is a large gap between the roles taken by men and women. Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection noted that the contribution of income (productive) from men as much as 64.83% and women 35.17%. Research from CIFOR (2012) also found that forestry is largely male-dominated and complicates women’s participation in forest management and decision-making.
The rapid development in Indonesia conducted over the past 35 years turned out to actually build a gap between the city and village differences, and its causing the rural communities are getting left behind. Rural women who rely on natural resources also experience many difficulties in living their lives because large-scale plantations, mining, oil / natural gas installations have damaged natural resources, especially land and water forests. Poverty is increasing because the lands are taken without compensation.
The gender justice perspective often ‘forgotten’ in the assistance of the community, the role of women is already represented by the male view. The lack of women participation in the decision meeting at both the village and state level has made the need of women neglected. In addition, women are also persecuted in the legal bureaucracy. Land degradation and deforestation will also have adverse impacts on the condition of women, as forests are the source of their livelihoods. Now, it is time for women to be able to participate directly in every decision-making process and decisions, including those relating to forests and land, as women’s votes are worth taking into account.