Den Upa Rombelayuk

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Den Upa Rombelayuk was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Women in Indonesia have been largely excluded from the decision-making processes that run their lives and determine the direction of Indonesian society. Both at home and in public life, their rights, aspirations, and opinions are subordinate to those of men. Currently, most strategies for women’s empowerment focus on helping women earn income, raising awareness about domestic violence, or encouraging women to join advocacy groups largely composed of women. While these strategies help women gain confidence and learn skills, they do not help women gain an active and equal role in community decision-making, where men still dominate.
Den Upa is reviving the Kombangan, a traditional Indonesian community decision-making forum, and using it as a tool for women’s equality. By arguing that women’s increasingly visible role in society deserves an equally visible part in deciding social policy, Den Upa has won women a spot in this traditionally male-dominated forum. Den Upa believes that changing the role of women in the Kombangan is a step towards creating a truly democratic form of governance.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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