Ari Sunarijati

Ashoka Fellow
Jakarta, Indonesia
Fellow Since 1990


This profile was prepared when Ari Sunarijati was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Woman laborers make up the most vulnerable group in the industrial workforce. Not only are they paid lower wages than men, but they have fewer rights as well. They receive no wages during maternity leave or when they have to be home because a member of the family is ill. Despite consistent violations of labor law, female labor stays quiet.
Ari believes the cause of this situation is laborers' ignorance of their rights and how they are protected by labor law. Another factor, according to her, is the lack of a labor union that is led, managed, and handled by workers - a union that can voice the needs and interests of laborers.
Ari is developing an education program to inform laborers about their rights and about strategies to take when dealing with work disputes; simultaneously, she is raising their awareness about their significant role in industry and preparing them to be true labor leaders.
To do this effectively, she and her friends set up "Ponkok Wanita Pekerja," or Shelters for Woman Laborers. They function as centers for education, information, and training. The shelters also offer practical courses in new skills such as sewing and cooking. There are currently two shelters in South and North Jakarta, which are to be followed by two others in Sukabumi and Surabaya.
Ari's dream is that one day Indonesia will have a labor union led, organized and managed by the laborer, so that it can be an organization that really voice the interests and needs of the laborer.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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