Fellow Since 2001
Yayasan Panca Karsa
This profile was prepared when Endang Susilowati was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
A lawyer and advocate for migrant workers, Endang sees that advocacy at a policy level must be met with grassroots action. Through a decentralized effort that puts former migrant workers in charge, Endang is setting up a network of small service centers that serve the women and girls who are most likely to follow an agent into a life of migrant servitude and debt bondage. The centers' staff reach deep into the rural communities, and because they speak from experience, their approach is especially effective and compelling to those who are considering joining the thousands of people–primarily women and children–who leave Indonesia each year for what they think will be a better life abroad. And the service centers serve other clients as well: in particular, returned workers who are disoriented, in debt, recovering from psychological, and in some cases, physical trauma. Through all these efforts, Endang hopes to bring a sense of self-confidence to these women, helping them to understand their worth, respect and cultivate their talents, and through education, avoid the pitfalls, lies, and ruses of an industry that stands to gain from the misery of millions.