"At first I didn't want to join Paradigta. I am embarrassed. I am not educated. I did not even finish primary school. But the women from PEKKA encouraged me to participate," recalls Aminah, a 44 year-old woman from Sungai Ambangan village, Kubu Raya district in West Kalimantan.
Aminah was one of 118 participants in the first batch of Paradigta Academy in 2016. Over a year, she and other women from villages across the district learn about village governance, how to develop regulations, understand village budgets, how to more effectively engage with and advocate to their local governments, as well as about women leadership and its involvement in village governance.
“In the past, I didn't know what the village spent money on. But now I can read and understand the village expenditure report. Because I understand where the money is going I am now more confident in saying how I think we should spend the money,” Aminah explained.
The Women-Headed Household Empowerment Program (PEKKA) – funded and supported by KOMPAK – developed the Paradigta Academy to develop capacity of female community members and strengthen female leadership at the grassroots-level.
It has been conducted in 10 provinces across more than 400 villages, and its 2,500 strong alumni – and growing – have successfully advocated for over IDR 1 billion in increased funding to basic services, and more than 50 local regulations focused on pro-poor and gender-inclusive development, including raising the minimum age of marriage.
The PEKKA Coordinator for West Kalimantan region, Kholilah, noted some of the challenges, “Convincing village heads to allocate their village funds for the education of women is not an easy thing. Besides the absence of a legal foundation, the use of village funds is indeed more focused on developing village infrastructure.”
Despite this, PEKKA has been successful in getting villages to contribute to the program. “The villages have been financing transportation and other needs for the women, while PEKKA contributes to financing mentors and education coordinators," explained Kholilah. This has been further supported by the District Government of Kubu Raya developing a regulation directing villages to allocate IDR15 million (A$1,500) from village funds for the Paradigta Academy.
Among other villages in this district that have allocated funds for women's education, Limbung village is one of them. According to Limbung Village Head Tajudin, “I want the community to be more developed. Therefore, when I heard that PEKKA held a school for women, I immediately agreed to send our women to study. All this time, our village lacks qualified human resources."
As the village head, Tajudin strongly recognised the benefits of sending women to learn about village governance, planning and budgeting. Besides the fresh ideas obtained in village management, the Paradigta Academy alumni are also always ready if the village needs their help. Their advocacy led Tajudin to increase the village budget for education by IDR20 million (A$2,000) per year in 2019.
Tajudin's willingness to empower women in his village could not be separated from the support of the Kubu Raya District Head, Muda Mahendrawan. Mahendrawan reiterated his commitment for female cadres in other villages to participate in the Paradigta Academy. “There are 118 villages in Kubu Raya. But only 42 villages sent women to the Paradigta Academy. We are trying to make all villages send women to Paradigta Academy so that they all benefit from their contribution. "said Mahendrawan.