“MY VOICE IS HEARD…”
By: Ester Pandiangan
To be heard to and to listen are two things that are needed for all humans, regardless of whether they are women or men. Unfortunately, women's voices are often left unheard, not only in the public sphere but also in the family environment. Women are still considered as figures who should "listen" and “not be heard".
"I used to think the same, too," said Munah (45) who is a member of a women’s group assisted by the Wahid Foundation in West Java. The mother of two children admitted that the training sessions and mentoring carried out by the Wahid Foundation had opened her mind and self-confidence that she was more than what she had been thinking so far.
"Before taking part in the training sessions, talking casually to my husband brought fear in me, let alone speaking about serious issues. But now, I do not fear anymore. For what?Men and women are equal," Munah said. In fact, according to Munah, it was not only her confidence to speak that has grown, but her suggestions and opinions have also been taken into account within the family and the public sphere. "I am happy that my words are being heard now," she stated.
Munah has been a member of a Wahid Foundation’s assisted women’s group since 2013. She has been a member since the opening of the Peace-Loving Cooperative (KCD Wahid) in Panggulan Village, Pengasinan, Depok, West Java. With a 1 million Rupiah loan from the cooperative, Munah and her husband used it as capital to sell vegetables from a cart.
With the same loan, Munah also developed a tailoring business for religious events such as Mawlid. "I am happy (to be participating) in the Wahid Foundation’s program. We are not only given loan capital but also training and information on how to run businesses and manage finances," she added.
It did not stop there. Munah continues to develop herself and help the Wahid Foundation’s team in managing the finances of a joint venture, named One Laundry, which has been operating since 2015. She told me that she was initially confused about how to invite people to become laundry agents and manage the agents. “Moreover I’m not good at speaking,” she mentioned.
Over time, Munah has gradually been able to communicate better, so now even Munah is often asked for opinions or input by her neighbors and other assisted group members when problems occur.
Six years ago, Munah was just an ordinary housewife who only accepted everything. But now, Munah takes a stand and takes part in numerous activities that not only empower herself and her family but also those around her.
Currently Munah is helping to encourage local young people to protect themselves from drugs and free sex. As an Integrated Health Post (Posyandu) cadre, Munah is also actively reminding mothers in her area of the importance of using contraceptives.
"My message to mothers is to be agile; don't just stay at home! If there is an opportunity to start a business to help the family economy, do it! Don't just depend on your husband!" she made as a point.