For the Marginalized Women of Indonesia there is Hope

by Shari

For young marginalized women growing up in Indonesia today, they face a strong gender bias, in trying to get educated, gain a skill and find quality employment.

The Bali WISE (WISE = Women of Indonesia Skills Education) program by Role Foundation was started in 2007 to help the exploited women working in the seaweed farming along Bali’s east coast. These seaweed farms have since disappeared under a mass of development. Each year Bali WISE program takes 120 young women from some of the poorest families, orphanages and children’s foundations, providing them with the opportunity to be educated and trained in a skill that will help them to support themselves, their families and progress to a future that they can control.

It is a well-known fact that the quickest way to break the poverty cycle for families and community is through skilling up marginalized women.

Every three months thirty young ladies are selected after an entry exam, interview and background check to ensure they really do come from the financially challenged. These young women are mostly aged between eighteen and twenty three. They live on campus to assure their safety for three months, where they are given a basic work and life skill education, dormitory style accommodation, three meals a day, uniforms, transport, education materials. This three month basic work and life skills includes: English training, women’s health, family planning, work place and women’s rights, and basic work skills and life skills. They’re also given a stipend of 700.000 Rupiah a month to send to their family if needed to avoid the family trying to entice their daughters home to work and help the family, taking the pressure off so they can study.

At the end of three months the young women are asked to choose a career: front office and accounting, spa therapist, cooks assistant, waitress, housekeeping, retail sales assistant or admin tour and travel. Then they are sent out to various locations for on the job training in five star hotels, tour and travel companies, retail chain or a spa school. This is why learning English is vital to their future. During this additional three month apprenticeship period their stipend is increased to 900.000 Rupiah in case they need to rent a motorbike for their work. They also study at the campus three nights per week and on Saturdays where they are taught CV writing, interviewing and employer expectations and always trying to improve their English.

Before the second three month period of training is finished the girls are strongly encouraged to secure work. The Bali WISE program has a 87% rate of successful placement in quality employment. Bali WISE does it’s best to help them find work. For many this is their first job.

After this 6 month full time course these young ladies have transformed from high school girls to young women with self-esteem.

I visited the Bali Wise facilities at Siligita, Nusa Dua last week and was given a tour and met some of the students, teachers and education staff. The students were all polite and shy. Their dormitory upstairs is a little crowded with thirty bunk-beds squeezed into the room. But everything was clean and tidy with some of the beds displaying a cuddly stuffed animal for their comfort, giving the bed a homey touch.

Downstairs is the kitchen area where meals are prepared and where the girls eat their meals. Two kittens were lounging in the area and a friendly black Bali dog greeted me. I was told that a few of the students had found injured animals on the street and brought them back to the Foundation where they were adopted. The pets gave the Foundation a friendly home feel.

At the other campus at Sawangan, up from the Hilton Hotel, for middle aged women whose way of gaining an income has been dashed by over development and the environment degradation of the local fishing industry Bali WISE runs it’s Women’s Business Development program. Weaving Futures is the reestablishment of traditional weaving on the Bukit. The women create beautiful traditional scarves which they sell to make an income for themselves. All of the cotton used in weaving is organic and the dyes come from local plants. A snail farm, plant nursery and aqua culture businesses are also under development.

Come out to support the Charity dinner on November 25 at Peppers Restaurant in Seminyak with an auction of fabulous prizes with proceeds going to BALI WISE PROGRAMS.


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