Umi Hanisah

Ashoka Fellow
Meulaboh, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Umi Hanisah was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Umi is creating a space for women to hold important roles in Acehan society. Through her work, an increasing number of women ulamas (religious leaders) are using their unique position to address fundamental social problems in the region, such as gender inequality and child welfare. By increasing the number of female ulamas, Umi is ensuring women have a stronger voice in their society, and their own lives.

Umi is also working to advance women’s rights by addressing male and female relationships within marriage; in Islam women do not have the same rights as men in a marriage. Nikah siri, or marriage without legal consent is commonplace in conservative Islam regions, leaving women with no legal rights. Umi has succeeded in persuading the provincial government to pass a mandate that requires premarital consultations with the Office of Religious Affairs for the potential husband and wife and the province is opening opportunities for women and children to have a voice in the family.

The movement that has started in Aceh has become part of a broader movement that has reached all parts of Indonesia. Women ulamas outside of Aceh, although still limited in numbers, have more freedom to speak and more influence in their society. These women ulamas have opened relationships with the women ulamas of Aceh, and together they have held several trainings to produce even more women ulamas throughout Indonesia.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You