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Men Supporting Women's Empowerment?
$2,730 raised
109% of $2.5k goal
30 contributors
0 days left
Ended Feb 16, 2016

Many of you know that in November I traveled to Indonesia to do research towards my PhD. During this trip I met with 50 women and 36 men to conduct workshops and focus groups to test the hypothesis that women's empowerment would be strengthened if a "male support" component was added. My expectations were not met but exceeded - I honestly never imagined the project would go this well. 

I was not working alone - an amazing woman named Nila Wardani made it all possible. Nila is the founder and president of RUMPUN - a woman's empowerment organization that works with over 22 women's groups in East Java, Indonesia. Nila and her team have done remarkable work in the last 7 years, and I absolutely credit them for the success of our November pilot as well. 

I have to admit, Nila and I were not sure what to expect since we are working in traditional areas where people maintain very traditional gender roles. But we thought it was worth a try. So we asked some RUMPUN women to nominate a man who is influencial in her life to attend a men's workshop. I was so nervous... would the men show up? Would they be late? Would they leave early? Would they roll their eyes? Would they laugh at us? Would they ignore us? Astonishingly they did none of these things. A total of 36 men came to our workshops - on time - and stayed until the end. They participated. They talked. They discussed "women's empowerment" and what it meant to them, their wives, and their families. They came to the conclusion that women's empowerment was important to their communities. They congratulated RUMPUN. They congratulated their wives. They brainstromed ways to better support their wives. When I heard one man suggest, of his own volition, "I could take care of the kids and the house so she can go to her RUMPUN activities," I thought I was going to fall off my chair. 

Nila and I were ecstatic. Most importantly - the women were excited and hopeful. After the workshops they invited me into their homes and thanked RUMPUN for this pilot project and asked us for more. They told us that for the first time ever they had discussed their RUMPUN work with their husbands. And for the first time ever they felt their husbands were appreciative of their RUMPUN work and what it meant to them. So bottom line... our idea absolutely initiated something that is real, and something that is worth continuing further. So much so that Nila wants to scale the effort up to reach all of her women's groups; inviting all husbands to a meeting to discuss women's empowerment and brainstorm ways that men could be even more supportive of their wives. I agreed to return in May to assist. 

The budget we used in November was minimal - NIla and her team donated their time and the use of the RUMPUN van, so all we had to pay for was gas, a driver, and lunch & water for participants. Evan and I funded the November workshops, and now I am asking friends and family to pitch in and be part of the follow-up. 

Asking for money is hard - even when it is on someone else's behalf. Trust me, this whole exercise is way out of my comfort zone. But I am asking you for this - for RUMPUN - please help contribute to this very exciting and important work. All donations will fund follow-up efforts to continue this "male support" project - not to salary or overhead. I am happy to answer any and all questions that you may have about my research, our plans, the RUMPUN groups, the villages where we're working in Indonesia - or anything else you're curious about. Please feel free to email me and ask. 

100% of your donation sent via FundRazr is tax deductable. However, the website does retain 5% for their own overhead. (Very common.) If you want RUMPUN to receive all of your donor dollars, and you don't need the tax write-off, you're more than welcome to send me a check directly. 

And assuming none of you want to read my final dissertation, all donors will get an update from me after my trip in May - I'll happily tell you how funds were spent, send you some photos, and explain how the project is progressing. 

I wouldn't be asking if this were not important. If you could have sat with me in these homes - sweating and eating fried banana and listening to the stories of these women, you'd understand how important their women's empowerment group is to them. In villages where oftentimes the only opportunity for a girl is marriage - these ladies reported increased self-confidence, increased decision-making power and increased general happiness. And for the first time their husbands came together in a formal space and agreed that this was an important program, with dividents that supported the next generation and the community as a whole. I don't want to lose this momentum - and I want all of Nila's group members to have the same opportunity. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance. Whether or not you donate - I honestly apprecaite you reading this and taking the time to learn more about my project. 

Kate

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