Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2006


This profile was prepared when Samsidar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Samsidar believes that Acehenese women victims of conflict and disaster have the capacity not just to survive, but to rebuild their lives and thrive. To do that, they must begin to heal, both individually and collectively, to recover trust, and to regenerate their community’s infrastructure. Samsidar helps women design solutions to problems resulting from years of displacement and erosion of social trust. She begins by bringing together the most vulnerable women—those who live in displacement camps and have experienced a high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault, often at the hands of police and military authorities. Women recount their experiences to their peers, prioritize their values and needs in terms of recovery, and receive help to reach those goals. Samsidar fosters peer-to-peer support groups that help women build temporary houses, secure an education for their children—many of whom have dropped out of school—and begin to recover economically. Samsidar supplements local resources with highly targeted assistance from her colleagues in the citizen sector.

Samsidar knows that it is particularly powerful for women in the camps to receive support from those who have not lost their homes or experienced the same level of devastation. As former neighbors reunite and rediscover what they share in common, the more fortunate neighbors often begin working to document the police and military brutality their sisters have experienced. Samsidar is cultivating ordinary people’s ability to become paralegals as a way to lobby for the rights of women victims in the legal sphere. Together, they are rebuilding bonds of trust, solidarity, and interdependence.

Samsidar supplements local efforts to rebuild community ties with efforts to develop lasting institutions and influence national policies. She has restored the local institution of Balai Syura Ureng Inong Aceh, a traditional public space for women. The National Commission on Violence Against Women has adopted her victim-based mechanisms for reporting and documenting civil rights abuses and is beginning to spread her methods to other parts of Indonesia. Samsidar is also developing a referral system so that police, citizen organizations (COs), and health providers can coordinate with one another to serve the needs of women victims.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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