Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation
Originally in Bahasa on Perempuan Memimpin
I, Cut Risma Aini, am the chief of Women Solidarity (SP) Aceh. Our organization works on issues related to women and conflict over natural resources, women and religious politicization, and issues to strengthen the organization itself. Our involvement with IWE concerns the issue of women’s leadership.
In Aceh, a region run by Islamic Sharia laws, women’s leadership is a very important issue as there are many rules or policies that restrict women’s ability to develop themselves and lead groups or communities. There are many rules that prohibit women from fully expressing themselves hence suppressing a lot of potential. There are many constraints. That is where SP comes in--to strengthen women who have potential, so that they can be go on to become leaders.
There are similarities between IWE and SP. One of IWE’s aims is to strengthen and promote women’s leadership by strengthening capacities for women through what is known as strengthening fellow women.
SP, meanwhile, has already been conducting the programs for a long time. For almost four years now, SP and IWE have been collaborating on this together. We are very happy working with IWE, since through this, we have been able to support and strengthen each other.
SP is concerned more with the community level. We have a national secretariat who conducts advocacy and campaigns nationally. IWE, meanwhile, is a network that can connect different national and international communities. Therefore, if both the organisations come together, there is a wider scope. When women hear about each other’s experiences, they find strength and encouragement.
There are many activities, but perhaps the first is for the activist or SP member themselves. It provides reinforcement of the process itself and strengthens women’s grassroots movement, enforcing the mandate of SP. Once a woman has been strengthened at grass roots level, she will strengthen others, and they will in turn all support each other. If, for instance, one woman has the potential to be a leader, she will shine from getting support, learning together, strengthening and being strengthened from others.