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JPost - Oct 28 2015 - Page 5 - Female breadwinners receive support to escape poverty
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Article published in the Jakarta Post, Wed, 28 October 2015, page 5.

Almost 50 percent or 300,000 low-income families in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province depend on women as breadwinners, though they still lack economic routes to get out of poverty.

The Indonesian Women-Headed Households (PEKKA) director Nani Zulminarni said that a 2014 survey conducted by her foundation in 150 villages in 27 provinces revealed that 24 percent of poor families in the country were headed by women.

“The Central Statistics Agency [BPS] figure was 12 percent but our survey’s was 24 percent,” said Nani at a multiparty meeting in Mataram over the weekend.

She added that NTB had the third highest figure of women breadwinners, with 48 percent, following NTT with over 50 percent and Papua with over 60 percent.

Nani said women family heads comprised widows, housewives whose husbands worked abroad and single women responsible for supporting their families. She added that the high number of women heading families was a result of poverty and limited natural resources, forcing men to go abroad to work as migrant workers.

“Many of these men did not support their families for a long time. When they came home, many got married again, leaving women as the backbones of their families,” Nani said.

The PEKKA foundation is one of several NGOs executing the Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction (MAMPU) program in a number of provinces, including NTB.

The program is aimed at improving public services and the livelihoods of poor women in Indonesia. In NTB, PEKKA operates in West, Central, East and North Lombok. It supervises over 4,800 female family heads in 118 villages in the four regencies.

Support takes the form of, among other things, economic empowerment through the establishment of savings and loans cooperatives. It has also established PEKKA Mart, where women organize to buy staple foods to market to their respective members and where those unable to buy in cash are allowed to purchase items through a loan system.

Besides economic capability, the women are trained to read and write as 56 percent of the women supervised were found to be illiterate.

In terms of food security, they were pushed to develop organic farming. They were also encouraged to revive the old tradition of conducting rice savings and loans.

“We also supervise them on law empowerment so these women will be able to get marriage or divorce certificates to enable their children to get birth certificates,” said Nani.

She added that over 60 percent of children under a year old and over 50 percent of children aged between 2 and 18 years did not have birth certificates in NTB.

Meanwhile, Rizki Ramjati of the National Development Planning Board’s (Bappenas) poverty eradication directorate said that in cooperation with the Australian government, Indonesia had conducted a genderbased poverty eradication program involving NGOs as field partners. The program is to run until 2020.

Rizki said that, proportionally, women were most vulnerable and poorest, but they were frequently unreachable by programs and public services.

“Responding to this concerning condition, the MAMPU program focuses its intervention on poor women and women’s organizations struggling for poor women’s rights,” Rizki said.

“When the program ends in 2020, local administrations are expected to be able to continue the supervision model to eradicate women in poverty,” Rizki said.