Gender Dimensions of the Crisis

Poverty and Inequality Analysis
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
Policy Research

If we take time to leaf through the previous five editions of the SMERU Newsletter, it will become apparent how little we have revealed of one of the most important aspects of the crisis, its gender dimension. We are all aware of how important this aspect really is and frequently discuss it. In fact we live with it; yet, we frequently forget to include it in our agenda. Gender is not just a matter of women, or even a matter of men and women. It is far more than that, for gender is a matter of human rights; gender is a development issue. In this edition we focus on the gender dimension of a range of crisis-related issues. Within our space limitations, we present first an overview of why gender is important in economics, in development, in evaluating the impact of the crisis, and ultimately, in overcoming the crisis. We then give a large part of our space to a number of organizations in order to share with readers a wide range of perspectives on gender and the crisis. One of the many NGOs that focuses on women's development has related some of its experiences and expressed the belief that the delivery of programs, including SSN and aid programs, would be more effective if these were carried out by women. One gender expert has also revealed that although women and girls have experienced the impact of the crisis they have not always obtained a fair share of the benefits from these aid programs.

The crisis that is presently overwhelming Indonesia, according to a member of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, is often narrowlydefined as an 'economic' crisis. In order to understand its root causes, its broad impact and its implications, it is necessary to appreciate fully the political and social dimensions of the crisis. This includes what has happened to women in Ambon and Sambas, the rape of Chinese Indonesian women in May last year, and evidence of increasing violence within the family directed against women. In fact, the findings from the field reveal that there still are significant differences between women and men, both in the ways they have been affected by the crisis and the ways they are coping with its impact. This is apparent in our From the Field column which looks at women factory workers. We also see that the women's movement in Indonesia has strengthened its voice during the reformation era. Women have become increasingly bolder in demanding their rights, beginning with their path-breaking demonstration for lower milk prices. But while women are clearly becoming more active participants, "Invisible Women" illustrates that it is too early to congratulate ourselves: when women were directly approached and encouraged to take part in a community forum developed by the SMERU Team in Kamal Muara - North Jakarta, only 9 women attended out of a total of 54 participants. We end the issue with new data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey about the gender differences in how people are responding to the crisis. One heartening fact is that more and more people are discussing gender issues and seem to understand them better. We at SMERU are very aware of this new perspective and recognize that it has affected our not only our research agenda but the way we work. Although we have about equal numbers of men and women in our team, we are not just concerned about statistics -- but also about qualifications, the capacities and responsibilities that are not based upon gender, without forgetting the special characteristics and skills of both women and men.

Research Area 
Special Capital Region of Jakarta
West Java
East Java
South Sulawesi
violence againts women
crisis impact
Publication Type 
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