Home Institution

Colgate University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


According to a United Nations report published in 2004, the remaining key challenge to women’s empowerment and gender equality is “women’s indifference to their own empowerment." [1] Initially I was interested in conducting my fieldwork on the state of women’s satisfaction with women’s rights and gender equality in Indonesia, as well as limits to greater equality. Before beginning my study, I spent time considering this declaration about women’s indifference as a potential barrier to greater empowerment and equality, as well as the biases inherent in the statement. I decided to not focus directly on women’s satisfaction with gender equality, since I did not want to approach my fieldwork with a mindset that would be incompatible with the mindset of my informants. That is, I chose to not explore perceptions about gender equality directly since I would not be able to put aside my Western, feminist biases to ask unbiased questions.

Instead, I chose to explore women’s daily lives, specifically focusing on women’s work. I chose to explore women’s work because I am interested in women’s daily lives and satisfaction in a patriarchal society where women’s role has historically been primarily domestic. Ultimately, women’s work is a lens through which I seek to understand the way women think of their roles in the community. Though my analysis demonstrates my bias towards feminism, I hope to also give voice to my informants’ stories as they told them.

[1] United Nations, “Women Watch: Indonesia. Overview and Achievements and Challenges in Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” (2004:11)


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Women's Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations