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Human Rights Day 2023 Talk Show: Indigenous Women and Land Management Rights

KEMITRAAN as a partner of Komnas HAM organised a talk show with the theme ‘Indigenous Women and Land Management Rights’ as a series of events to commemorate Human Rights Day 2023. The event was held on 8 December 2023 at the Auditorium of the National Library (Perpusnas) of the Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta. This discussion is important to build public awareness of the fulfilment of indigenous women’s rights in managing the land that is their living space. Indigenous women have an important role in preserving indigenous knowledge and managing natural resources in their communities, but indigenous women also face severe challenges in carrying out their roles, such as the lack of women’s participation in development forums, the practice of gender-based violence, and climate issues that have an impact on crop failure.

This activity invited speakers who are part of the indigenous community, namely Yarni Ijo, Head of Lonca Village and Indigenous Women of To Kulawi, Sigi. Also invited were Budhis Utami from KAPAL Perempuan, Gatot Ristanto as a representative of Komnas HAM, and Ronna Nirmala from Project Multatuli. The discussion was moderated by Arif Nurdiansyah from Kemitraan.

The discussion began with a performance of Tehyan music by Chinese Benteng women. Tehyan is a musical instrument originating from China. This instrument is often played by people of Chinese descent combined with the art of gambang kromong, lenong betawi, or ondel-ondel. The Chinese Benteng community of KWPS Lentera Benteng Jaya began learning Tehyan music and introducing it to the wider community since 2018 to encourage social acceptance.

The first speaker in the discussion was Yarni Ijo. Based on Yarni Ijo’s experience, previously there were only a few women who attended Musrembang because there was still the thought that women would not be able to contribute much. Since she took office as Village Head, this has been changed.

If the percentage of women has not reached 50% in the village Musrembang, I will not start the Musrembang. Musrembang will only start when the number of women and men are equal, half and half,’ Yarni said.

This is done so that women are involved in decision-making for development at the village level. Yarni Ijo also discussed the involvement of To Kulawi indigenous women in land management in her community. In the To Kulawi indigenous community, women have the authority to manage land, this tradition is called Pampa. Pampa is local wisdom that also supports community food security. Indigenous women in Lonca Village have worked together for generations to clean, clear and plant Pampa land with crops. The economic benefits from Pampa management can then be saved for children’s education costs.

Furthermore, the discussion continued with a discussion on the power of the media to encourage the fulfilment of indigenous women’s rights. Ronna Nirmala from Project Multatuli revealed that the articles in Jendela Perempuan Adat tried to explore the relationship between indigenous women and land.

The media should favour indigenous women. In relation to the guarantee of state protection for indigenous community land ownership, Gatot Ristanto from Komnas HAM stated that the role of the state in the protection, fulfilment and respect of the human rights of Indonesian citizens including indigenous peoples is reflected in legal products such as the 1945 Constitution and the Human Rights Law. Unfortunately, there are still only 68 recognised indigenous peoples in Indonesia out of hundreds or perhaps thousands of indigenous peoples. The fulfilment of the human rights of indigenous peoples is also still lacking, as shown by the violence and criminalisation that still often occur to indigenous peoples.

Regulations regarding state-managed forests prohibit anyone from entering the forest area, even though indigenous peoples have lived in the area even before the state was formed, they depend on the forest, they eat from the forest. The living space of indigenous peoples is then limited by HGU and companies. Agrarian conflicts arise from development priorities, such as the cases of Mandalika, IKN, Rempang, in which there are indigenous peoples. Indigenous people should be seen as a whole. Giving them houses and relocating them is not a solution, there is a disregard for their precious culture. These problems must be minimised so that the rights and existence of indigenous peoples are not disturbed,’ she added.

Budhis Utami from KAPAL Perempuan also shared about the good practices of Sekolah Perempuan as a space for women to fight for collective rights. In fulfilling human rights, KAPAL analyses which groups are most restricted and who feel the most impact and loss from these restrictions. KAPAL encourages these groups of women to realise that they have the same rights and position in society.

What must be done is to amplify women’s voices and that requires courage. For example, indigenous women must be able to question customary regulations that do not give space for women’s voices, such as during marriage where the decision on the size of the dowry is only determined by traditional elders and the family of the male party, or how in discussion places such as gazebos, only men are filled while women sit below, on the ground, and prepare food only. Through Sekolah Perempuan, we encourage women to be involved in the preparation of the APBDesa and RPJMN Desa. Our challenge is also that there are still no regulations on early marriage and sexual violence, which affect many women, that reach the village level,‘ said Budhis.

Budhis suggested that, when discussing indigenous women and land management rights, it is crucial to also consider the benefits for the women themselves. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that women’s voices are heard and that they can freely participate in forums or organizations, as the benefits of land management rights often focus solely on family or children’s interests.

The discussion concluded that to encourage the fulfilment and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples, there are at least four things that need to be strengthened and improved. First, there must be recognition of indigenous peoples. The Indigenous Peoples Bill, which has been drafted for almost 15 years, needs to be completed and passed immediately because this bill is very important to recognise the rights of indigenous peoples. Second, there needs to be increased multi-stakeholder cooperation. Coordination between institutions to deal with indigenous peoples’ issues must continue to be strengthened. Third, the state needs to review existing regulations and policies related to human rights and indigenous peoples. Fourth, the media must take part in favouring indigenous peoples. The media should not only talk about indigenous peoples when there is a conflict, but the media should also convince the public that indigenous peoples are part of all of us and protecting them is our shared responsibility.

After the discussion session, the event was closed with a stand-up comedy performance by Rizky Teguh, a finalist of the golden ticket of Stand Up Comedy Indonesia (SUCI) season 8 in 2018 held by Kompas TV and a tehyan music performance from Chinese Benteng indigenous women.

By organising this talk show, it is hoped that it can trigger public critical awareness of the real situation experienced by indigenous women with regard to land management rights and can trigger new movements in the future.

Written by Meilisa Anggraeni (Internship Student of FISIPOL UGM)