This profile was prepared when Kasmiati was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Kasmiati seeks to achieve full social and economic emancipation for Sasak women. While growing up in a neighborhood of petty traders, Kasmiati observed firsthand the injustices directed toward her mother and other women in the village, and also their endless struggle to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty. Traditionally, the women had no money and thus no bargaining power. Kasmiati saw the need to establish a group of women working together who could provide one another with emotional support, and who could also form an alliance that would bolster their bargaining power when entering into economic enterprises outside the home.Kasmiati envisions an independent women's cooperative that would, unlike most traditional cooperatives, require active membership as well as work on economic development.Kasmiati's approach is to develop each member as a whole person, not just to develop an income generation scheme. The organization which Kasmiati founded, the Anissa Cooperative, emphasizes a social agenda in addition to its income generation component. By addressing needs for education, health and welfare, legal rights, and leadership development, the 800 Sasak women members are growing bolder. They are beginning to take a more active role in decisionmaking within the household, as well as publicly pursuing their rights in the broader community. This process of building social and economic empowerment is long and painstaking, but, once under way, it is all but irreversible.Anissa's economic impact is also proving powerful. Its small low-interest loans are financing a growing number of investments in new producing and trading activities that allow members to improve (often double) their incomes. As the Sasak women find their own voice and increase their economic base, they are moving closer to their own emancipation.As Kasmiati has developed Anissa from its tiny beginning in her own neighborhood, she has increasingly turned her attention to how to achieve a far wider impact. Anissa will grow, helping others learn from its experiences. However, Kasmiati has launched a more aggressive strategy as well.She began this new dimension of her work by bringing together all the groups concerned in any way with women on her home island, Lombok (it lies just east of Bali). She engaged them in cosponsoring an in-depth survey of women's needs on the island and in discussing its results - a logical precursor to developing common approaches and programs.