Women Research Institute

Promoting women leadership and inclusive,
gender-based, and sustainable natural resource governance


  • The Impacts of Forest Concession on Women’s Lives

    The data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) records a massive loss of tree covers in peat lands in Pelalawan Regency and Siak Regency, Riau, which could lead to prolonged forest fires. Currently, the proportion of degraded forests is much larger than the proportion of natural ones, potentially causing an extended impact on women who are highly dependent on forest conditions. The increasingly fast rate of deforestation each year is triggered by the large number of concessions granted to plantation and forest-based companies, thus limiting the people’s access to forests and natural resources.

Moral Economy of Women at the Factory: Social Dynamics at the Workplace (5)


The concept of “social capital” could simply be defined as the relationship between individuals, which forms a beneficial social network for various shared interests. This network becomes a material basis that could be accumulated by each individual to develop their potential. In the context of the female factory labor, the network is directly related with the factory environment and their social and residential surroundings. In this article, Khodijah presented how the relation between both environments is greatly important to support a female worker who tries to survive in the industrial relations. They usually take benefit from that social capital to find new employment sectors or lodging, as a means to recruit a family or relative in a certain company, and so on. Almost all of these social relations are pragmatic and closely related to the reality of daily life that the women workers must tackle in a short period of time; an apolitical social relation.

Moral Economy of Women at the Factory: Social Dynamics at the Workplace (4)


An asymmetrical industrial relation is managed by women workers in various ways, such as using strategies or negotiations with the industrial apparatus or developing a particular social strategy. A case of this is Enong, who experienced a miscarriage in 2006. As presented by Diana Teresa Pakasi in this book, the company where Enong works considered her absence during the miscarriage as not part of the menstrual or maternity leaves, thus she was not entitled to receive a full salary. However, Enong pressured her company to pay her wages and involved in her factory’s labor union (PUK). Instead of fighting for rights as a member, the union oppressed her instead. The network of knowledge and power that the union had made the organization feel that they do not need to be equal with Enong. In order to proceed with solving the case, they required Enong “to recruit 10 other laborers to be members of the labor union”. Fulfilling the requirement was not easy, yet Enong chose to see it from a positive point of view: securing fellow laborers as a social capital that could protect her in the future, as well as part of a lesson for laborers to not hastily become a member of the labor union when they face a problem. On the other hand, it was also a disciplining process to laborers, which at a certain degree can be considered as an absolute truth, that should be adhered to by the labor union, laborers, and apparatus of the company.

Moral Economy of Women at the Factory: Social Dynamics at the Workplace (3)

The matrix below is the findings of WRI researchers about a number of issues faced by women workers in their industrial relations.

Moral Economy of Women at the Factory: Social Dynamics at the Workplace (2)


The relation between workers and employers in Indonesia in the 1970s was still largely characterized by a rural-style patron-client social relation. The labor of traditional brick factories around Bekasi, for instance, assume the role of client, whereas factory owners take on the role of patron, by providing all kinds of protection. That pattern gradually disappeared along with the change in a majority of villages in Bekasi into an industrial area. The number of entrepreneurs of traditional bricks fell drastically. Industrialization pushed various changes in the local level, such as the revocation of land ownership rights or villagers who “changed profession” to factory workers or started working at other non-agricultural sectors. The migrant labor that “flooded” the industrial areas around Bekasi advantaged local citizens who then started various businesses, such as dorms, boarding rooms, small diners, and other services. Industrialization has changed the face of Bekasi’s villages, both in infrastructure and in its more “urbanized”1 culture. For instance, making appointments with fellow workers to eat and shop together in a mall or purchasing cellphones. Their choice in fashion also adopts the taste of the middle class. Their consumptive behavior is currently even more difficult to be differentiated with the consumptive behavior of other social classes. This means that the presence of women workers in the industrial area must be placed within the context of cultural changes, and their strategies in handling such changes.

Latest Publication

  • Women’s Leadership Training Module

    The Women’s Leadership Training Module is a guidebook based on a series of capacity building for women’s leadership held by Women Research Institute (WRI) in five selected areas, namely Padang, Deli Serdang, Mataram, Pekanbaru, and Jakarta. This is a follow-up from WRI’s 2012 research titled “Feminist Leaderships in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia in Influencing Social Movements and Its Correlation to the Improvement of Women’s Prosperity: A Case Study in 5 Regions.”  The research findings...

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