Caring and Crying Are Not Women-only Business

Men are not built to nurture.” That is how our society usually perceives the gender role of men. It is also often said that a woman's natural role is to raise children.

The term gender is commonly confused with sex. The late Dorce, an Indonesian public figure and a transwoman, internalized herself as a woman. Being a woman is her gender or her ‘social sex’. When we talk about gender, we talk about roles. Attending a neighbours’ association (rukun tetangga) does not necessarily imply that someone is a man, for instance.

Gender is interchangeable, while biological sex is assigned at birth. The functions of a sexual organ cannot be changed, even though we can alter its physical appearance. We have been taught since our childhood that “John helps dad fix the bike.” Growing up as a man, boys are expected not to cry. Frankly, men should have the right to express their emotions just as women do. The same thing goes with the Family Welfare Empowerment (PKK). PKK should not be exclusively for women but should facilitate the involvement of men too. 

The good news is, our gender concept is changing. Women, whose traditional roles have been purely domestic work now have the opportunity to participate in disaster preparedness. However, to increase women’s participation, there are some necessary changes to prevent the double burden of work (at home and in public). In other words, for women to participate in the public space, there needs to be more men sharing the work of household activities, such as cooking and raising children. 

Unfortunately, most women are behind men in terms of involvement in society. Based on the 2018 National Socio-Economic Survey, less than 60% of women are involved in professional work compared to 80% of men. People living with disabilities share similar experiences to those of women in terms of community participation. Being twice as likely not to finish elementary school as their non-disabled peers. Conversely, people living without a disability are three times more likely to receive higher education diplomas. 

Gender and ability-related discrimination are not isolated issues. Gender and other differences intersect in many ways. Meaning women cannot be viewed as a homogeneous group. For example, an affluent woman's participation in society will be different from a woman who comes from a minority group. The same goes for a woman living with a disability compared to her non-disabled counterpart. Intersectionality spans across many identities such as religion, ethnicity, and ability, all of which need to be considered when discussing gender-related issues. 

How can we then increase vulnerable groups' social participation and acceptance in society? This topic was discussed on Thursday and Friday, 6-7 October 2022, at YAKKUM Emergency Unit’s (YEU) IDEAKSI program workshop. Day one was on gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI) of the two-day program focused on inclusive disaster risk reduction. A key strategy to increase the involvement of vulnerable groups in society is inclusive program design. There are five aspects of inclusive program design to be considered: access, participation, benefit, control, and accessibility. All of these need to be considered to close the gap in social inclusion. 

The workshop involved the active participation of four innovators from the original IDEAKSI program. These four innovators have been selected for additional funding to support the growth/scale-up phase of their IDEAKSI projects. Representatives from each team learned together how GEDSI practices can be applied in their areas and what can be improved. It is expected that the GEDSI perspective can be accommodated in the whole project management cycle and each team’s reporting.

Doddy Kaliri of DIFAGANA DIY (the People with Disabilities Task Force for Disaster Response), one of the IDEAKSI innovators, stated that his institution had already pushed for participation from both older people and youth groups. Ngudi Mulya Farmers’ Group, with their mist irrigation system, has already increased access for older people to participate in farming, by removing the need to carry water manually.

Meanwhile, another innovator, PB Palma (Disaster Management and Community Service Unit of Ambarrukma Javanese Church) acknowledged that the community often does not realize the vulnerable groups among them. Only after they were introduced to these vulnerable groups did they identify the people living with disabilities and those who are potentially neglected in times of disaster.

CIQAL, an organization that advocates for the rights of people living with disabilities, shared some data from their area, “Only 20% out of 112 persons with disability are actively involved in local lawmaking and training activities.” Understanding this participation level helps CIQAL to figure out the next steps to narrow the participation gap.

Aminatun Zubaedah of SRI Institute, the facilitator of the GEDSI workshop, stressed the importance of data in advancing social inclusion. The availability of disaggregated data, for instance, how many women are living with disabilities in a specific village, is crucial for the quality of problem analysis. Even when quantitative measures are not available, qualitative data will help us make the right decision.

During the whole discussion process in the workshop, one thing needs to be highly appreciated, and that is the participants’ enthusiasm in sharing good practices from each team. This common learning process will amplify the impact of each innovator in attaining our common goal of inclusive disaster risk reduction.