Monash University
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Women’s empowerment in a poor community in Jakarta

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posted on 2017-03-03, 00:13 authored by Eddyono, Sri Wiyanti
This thesis presents a case study of women’s empowerment in Indonesia that examines how women in one informal settlement (slum) in Jakarta, Kampung Rawa, resist house eviction. This thesis also examines how governments, NGOs and leader in the community could assist or impede women’s empowerment. In Jakarta, house evictions have been conducted for over fifty years as part of municipal government policies for modernising the city. They particularly target poor people living in informal settlements without title to land and acutely affect women. This study examines how women’s empowerment and disempowerment occurs in the process of struggles to prevent eviction in different urban political contexts under three governors of Jakarta in the New Democratic era: Sutiyoso, Fauzi Bowo and Joko Widodo. Utilising a feminist qualitative approach based on interviews, focus group discussions and participative observation, this thesis defines women’s empowerment as a process of creating space for women to expand their agency in order to challenge oppressive power. Most studies assess women’s empowerment as operationalised within intervention programs conducted by NGOs, government officers or other development agencies. By contrast, I analyse whether the desire to resist the demolition of their homes and their roles as mothers encourage women to intensify their agency. This study exposes the diversity of women’s situations, their agency and their strategies in preventing eviction. Although they live in one informal settlement Kampung Rawa residents are divided into three groups, each with different characteristics. They have faced different layers of power that oppress them in everyday life: husbands, community leaders, and local governments.. However, women’s agency is strongly evident through different kinds of resistance in their daily life, as individuals and through the adoption of more collective strategies, both subtle and more visible. The dynamics of their agency are influenced by several factors: their own perception of problems and the way they interpret their roles as mother and wives, their relationship with their husbands, government attitudes and policies, and their interaction with NGOs and leaders in their own community. These different interactions have created more available spaces for them to increase their agency, but also have obstructed their agency. Thus, this study concludes that women’s struggles in combating eviction facilitate their empowerment even as they experience disempowerment.


Principal supervisor

Susan Blackburn

Additional supervisor 1

Samanthi Gunawardana

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Social Sciences (Monash Australia)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts

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