Fellow Since 2001
Yayasan Keluarga Sehat Sejahtera Indonesia
This profile was prepared when Zubie Zubaedah was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Zubie is exposing and combating rampant divorce and polygamy, especially in the province of Nusa Tenggara Barat, which includes the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. As the economy changes and migrant labor becomes more common, men are less closely tied to their homes and families. At the same time, local religious teachers interpret the Koran selectively and apply it to legitimize polygamy and unilateral divorce. Zubie discovered that young people growing up in this environment are acutely aware of the social costs of this behavior, as they watch their own families disintegrate. By building a youth movement that brings marital practices, a subject not usually discussed openly, into public discussion, Zubie is working on two fronts. She creates an unprecedented opportunity for adolescents to reflect on family matters at a pivotal point in their lives, when they will either repeat the behavior they have seen or break from it. At the same time, by putting young people at the center, Zubie is drawing in other important actors, such as government agencies interested in improving the health and welfare of families, and religious institutions concerned about "misinterpretations" of the Koran. Thus, by involving young people, institutions of government, and spokesmen of religion and morality, Zubie is building a social ethic that will result in fewer early marriages among young teenagers, fewer hasty divorces, improved health, and higher income in Indonesian households.