Farha Ciciek


This profile was prepared when Farha Ciciek was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Farha is successfully introducing interpretations of religious texts that favor women’s rights to a massive audience within Indonesia’s Islamic boarding schools, or pesantren, and the communities that surround them. As a key part of her strategy, she identifies male and female leaders in religious schools and organizations who can help her gain entry into their communities. Some already espouse women’s rights within an Islamic perspective and others learn about these ideas for the first time in her intensive workshops. Together with these influential leaders, Farha has established an active network that brings people with progressive views together to strengthen the cause of equality and to improve women’s daily lives.
With the help of religious leaders, Farha’s organization, The Center for Education and Information on Islam and Women’s Rights (RAHIMA), has created publications and a curriculum designed to reach both students in pesantren and madrasas (religious day schools) and members of the Muslim community at large. Some of the leaders Farha has worked with are now establishing their own crisis and reproductive health centers to provide practical services based on a philosophy of respect for women’s rights. To support these efforts and answer basic needs, Farha is working with secular citizen organizations (COs) and educational institutions to train midwife activists to provide reproductive health care in pesantren. In this way, she is linking religious communities with a broader network through a carefully conceived, non-confrontational approach that provides both egalitarian education from a religious perspective and practical benefits to women’s lives.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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