Fellow Since 2000
HAPSARI (Himpunan Serikat Perempuan Indonesia)
This profile was prepared when Lely Zailani was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Lely has combined local content radio programming aimed at womens' issues with more traditional efforts such as conducting local village meetings, to raise awareness and stimulate isolated and uneducated rural women to form community groups. The result has been dramatic: the creation of the Independent Women's Union of North Sumatra, comprised of five hundred village women from several districts. The Union holds monthly meetings, is developing a citizenship awareness movement, and is run by officers elected from the membership. The Union is entirely supported by membership dues.Through her involvement in national forums of women's NGOs, Lely is actively spreading her ideas including her key insight that while radio programming can inform and bring out a large pool of women with a range of leadership capabilities, the nurturing of these capabilities requires a careful, step-by-step approach. Done properly, the process yields real leaders who are committed, can work on a large scale, and are in it for the long haul. That is quite different from conventional wisdom: that rural women could only be "organized" to attend meetings run by issue-driven NGOs with roots outside the rural area.