Ever since she was 3, Nuraini has been living with disability. This has led her to be an active advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in her village in Nusa Tenggara, an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. But for many years her efforts led to nothing.
In 2004, Nuraini joined the Women Coalition for Justice and Democracy (Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia) and formed the Banjar Kemuning Women Group in her village. It’s one of the 155 women groups in the region that Oxfam has been supporting since 2012. But Nuraini’s group is unique since around 40% of its members are people with disabilities.
Through the group’s collective effort, Nuraini’s fight for the rights of women and of persons with disabilities are becoming increasingly effective. They now have access to funding support from the National Retirement Savings Bank (Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional) to support their cooperatives, which also provides a saving and loan mechanism for its members.
Being a member of Women Coalition for Justice and Democracy also allowed Nuraini and other members of her group to participate in various capacity building activities aimed at strengthening their leadership qualities. “Every time I participated in a capacity building workshop, I would then share what I had learned with the other members of my women group”, says a proud Nuraini.
Nuraini also adds that within the Coalition, a person with disabilities like her receives the same treatment and opportunities as the other members. “What I like the most of being a member of this coalition is the sense of togetherness. We are never discriminated upon, even when we go to influence the government in the national level”. That’s the reason why Nuraini, and other members of Banjar Kemuning Women Group never feel ashamed or afraid when joining any kinds of activities; they are able to voice their minds more freely.
For Nuraini, it is really important to keep the spirit of women with disabilities high, as sometimes the struggle to claim their right can be tiring. In Indonesian culture women are often disempowered and, thus unable to participate in decision making that can influence their life. By organizing in groups, women gain collective power that enables them to have stronger voice to address women-specific issues around them. This is especially true for women with disabilities who suffer from double discrimination, for being a women and for having disabilities.
Photo: Cecilia Novarina/Oxfam
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