Home Islamic Studies Article Women’s Role in the Rural Development

Women’s Role in the Rural Development


Women’s participations are very crucial in decision making process, especially related to the rural development. Indeed, women should not only have to give support merely on the constructive suggestion, but they also should involve in developing their village. We can refer to the success of Wolwal Village, in the District of Alor,  of Nusa Tenggara Timur Province in initiating DEsa Ramah Perempuan (DRP) or Women Friendly Village. Yonri Fanani, the Head of Wolwal Village, had issued a policy to build the public facilities that are needed by women in the village. 

The success of Wolwal Village really deserves appreciation from the Ministry of Rural and Development of the Disadvantaged Areas and Transmigration or Kemendes PDTT. Yonri with the people of Wolwal Village, had built the water and sanitation facilities such as family toilets, farm roads, traditional markets, and other public facilities that so far were closely connected to women daily life. In addition to that, as the Head of the Village he issued the Village Rule on the Women and Household Economic Empowerment. Furthermore, Yonri had been very active in voicing Anti Domestic Violence. 

Wolwal Village is merely an example of a village that had been successful in involving women in development and achieving the women friendly policies. Unfortunately, this awareness had not been implemented massively in various villages. Even though in the Law on Village, there had been written about the principle of gender equality and justice in the village arrangement and the implementation of the village governance. The affirmative actions to women, actually gave significant impact, not only the improvement of the women’s quality of life but also in the rural development. 

In addition to that, in the Law on Village also had been affirmed about the role of women in the rural development. We can reflect from other inspirative figures, as mentioned in republika.co.id (Wednesday, 25 Nov 2015), related to women’s role in the society. One of them is Maria Adelheed Mo’o, a vegetable seller in Borong Market, East Manggarai, who had been succeeded against the domination of the loan sharks in her village. She had been successful to build a saving and loan cooperative of the Kompleks Pasar (Kompas) or market areas in 2013, which majority of its members are women. 

Women who are often perceived only staying at home and do nothing, or just gossiping while chewing betel, were invited by Maria to involve together in Kompas cooperative. So that, those women do many empowerment activities that are benefited for themselves. Even, with the women empowering themselves it brings indirect impact on the decreasing number of domestic violence cases in the Borong Village as well as the increasing the economic level of the community. Because of women, so the problem of the social, public, and the household can be solved. This is just a litte story about the role of women in developing villages.


The implementation of the Law on Village actually can create spaces for the socio-economic movement in the local level up to national level. In this context, a village is the strength of Indonesian nation. The spirit of citizenship in the rural society were grown by the village deliberations practices which discussing about the problem solving of the social problems. In addition to that, the mutual cooperation culture which is still strong in the village, can be increased again by involving the cadres to participate in the empowerment of village people and also by involving other stakeholders. 

The village can be strengthen to become a basis for life and livelihood, socio cultural, politic and governance and economy. Through the Law on Village, actually a village is prepared to become a basis for social welfare and a solid base for our nation state Republic Indonesia. But, in its implementation sometimes it still neglects women, especially related to the information access on the law on Village and their active participation in the development. As mentioned by R. Yando zakaria in his paper “The Women Who Change the Face of Villages:  Law Number6/2014 and Inclusive Development in Indonesia.” 

The presence of the law on Village had given a hope that is important for the rural people to sovereign again in managing the village. But unfortunately, women groups are the last parties who obtained the information about the Law on Village. So far, knowledge had been dominated by the officials which most of them men. Therefore, to give information about Law on Village to women groups actually is an important part of a just and fair knowledge building system from us together, so that all people can be involved in the development process of the village. 

The Law on Village actually had focused on the participation of the marginal groups in the society (the culture people, women, poor people, minority groups, and people with disabilities) in building the village. Although in the implementation in reality it had not been optimum yet. In addition to that, according to many NGOs or civil society organizations who work in the area of women, the Law on Village does not emphasized women participation in producing the pro poor  policies (including women). 

Participatory Rural Development  Requires All Elements of the Society to be Active 

Based on the Constitution 1945 Article 18 B verse 1 and Article 18 verse 7, it is said that a village is a hybrid organization between a self-governing community with the local self-government. In this context, a village is not identic with the village government and the village leader. A village consisted of governance and also society so they form a unity of law and an organic unity. A village can be reduced just only as governance which is located in a District or City governance system, but a village is a unity of a law society which is located in the District or City areas. (Kemendes PDTT, Question and Answers Around Law on Village, page 22). 

The national development are done from the bottom up, or from the periphery to the center. In this context, the village position is a very strategic as mentioned in Law on Village. The revival of the village are expected continues to grow welcoming the village sustainable development as supporting factor of the national development. Although the Law on Village gave the authority to every village to govern its society, but sometimes it is still blocked by the top-down administrative procedural works. 

In addition to that, the ‘social participation’ as the spirit of the Law, was not reflected in its implementation in reality. In the village development, the social participation was only manifested by the representation of several community leaders or the village government themselves in the Planning of Village Development Assembly or Musyawarah Rencana Pembangunan Desa (Musrembangdes), without involving the participation of the marginalized people (including women). They also did not involved in Badan Permusyawaratan Desa or Village Assembly Body. This happened because of the patriarchal culture that are strongly exists in the village community. 

The participatory or inclusive village development programs had been stated in the Law on Village, but it had not achieved its target yet. There were several problems that caused the participatory development can’t run optimally. First, the program had not reached the most marginal groups. Second, the quality of participation is still poor, lack of giving the constructive proposals or only still putting themselves as listeners, so the policies that had been achieved only benefited the village elites. Third, the inequal social structure sometimes causes the program implementators and decision makers only limited for the persons who had access to Law on Village and Musrembang or Village Planning Assemby, also the representation in BPD or Village Assembly Body. 

The village development which in another term called “Desa Membangun” nomenclature, actually should involve the participation of all elements of the society. This is as stated in Article 78 of  the Law on Village, “The village development is aimed to increase the social welfare and the quality of life of the village society through the fulfilment of the basic needs, the facilities and infrastructure building, the development of local economic potentials, and the utilization of natural resources and environments sustainably.” This article also mean that the social marginalized groups should become the main beneficiaries of the village development.

At least, there were some affirmative actions in the participatory village development that referred to the Law on Village. First, to involve the marginal groups, for example women and people with disabilities as the village officials and members of BPD or Village Assembly Body. Second, to ensure the ivolvement of participation and accommodate the voice of marginalized groups in the Village Assembly Body.  Third, to organize, assist and strengthen the marginalized groups to be more empowered and actively participate in the village development activities. Fourth, to guarantee that the achievement of development will bring significant and direct impact to the improvement of welfare and quality of life of the marginalized groups. These can be done in the process of needs assessment of the society, also as indicators of achievements of the village development. (Kemendes PDTT, Question and Answers Around Law on Village, page 120-121) 

Women Empowerment : Active Participation in the Village Development 

The Center of Statistical Body or BPS in 2015 said that the population of Indonesia in year 2018 were 264,2 million people, in which 50,2 percent of them were male, while 131,5 million people or 49,8 percent were female.  Referring to the BPS data, the Gender Development Index (HDI) of Indonesia had increased from 90,82 I n 2016 to 90,99 in 2018. The Gender Development Index (GDI) was used to measure the dimension and variable of achievement as the same as Human Development Index (HDI), but uttering the inequalities of the male and female achievements. 

Although had been increasing, but the index is still running slowly. For that, we can’t avoid another facts that the development approach in Indonesia had not focused on the gender equality and justice. This is still difficult to achieve because the strong patriarchal socio-cultural values that still happen in the society. This situation was marked by the division of labor, double burden, subordination, and violence against women. In addition to that, the limited access of women in the decision making process and the unresponsive gender policies tend to marginalize women. 

Finally, women can’t participate in the development and doesn’t benefit from the development as equal and just as men. Eventhough, the active role of women will make the development more effective and efficient, further more in the village development. Because women who are directly connected with their own daily lives, their families and society. If women are not involved, certainly the policies that had beed created in the village development will be not on target, doesn’t mach with realities, and doesn’t answer the problems. 

Related to this problem, actually women (and other marginalized groups) should be involved as village officials and members of Village Assemby Body or BPD by implementing the affirmative action with 30% quota as implemented in the parliament.  Women should be involved in the Village Assemby for a in order to be more active in playing significant role in the decision making process to produce gender justice policies. In addition to that, there are many program recommendations to improve women empowerment in the village development, such as: 

 Women and Children Friendly Village 

In realizing this kind of village the constructive support from women are needed because they know they best what they need. In this situation, we can’t separate women and children because both of them have the interconnections. There ae several offer to realize the Women and Children Village. They are: optimizing the role of Center for the Comprehensive Services of Women Empowerment, the building of water and sanitation infrastructures, family toilets, farm roads, traditional markets, and other public facilities such as the Breastfeeding and Nursery Room in every office or public building and companies in every village, proposing to the Local Regulation on No Smoking in Public Spaces that are supported by creating Smoking Areas in some places, establishing the Posyandu or Pos Pelayanan Terpadu  (Integrated Service Post) and the quality of its services,  building the access to the road and public vehicle facilities to the market, school, hospital and public facilities,  establishing playgrounds for the children, parenting class for both parents so that the children education is not burdened only to women,  reproductive health education and training in the schools, advocacy and handling the domestic violence cases, violence against children and child protection,  advocacy in assisting women and children who become the victims of sexual violence,  establishing the save and loan cooperation for women to support them for child education  and the fulfilment of family needs. This kind of cooperation is also use to empower women. 

Program on the Sustainable Education for Women 

The program is an effort to empower women. The intended sustainable education consisted of life skills for women. For example, literacy education, management training, product packaging training, marketing training, including to build the entrepreneurship networking, and the involvement in the exhibitions (in the local, national, and international level). In this context, the Law on Village guaranteed the capacity development of the village human resources through vocational trainings. While the output that will be achieved through this excellent program are women empowerment and creative economy by resulting groups on micro economy (home industry). Women who are empowered socially and economically will stimulate the achievement of village development. (Editor). 


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