Intra Household Priority for Employment Opportunity: a Challenge for Rural Women Despite Gender Indiscrimination - a Case Study From Banyuwangi, East Java
The poverty rate of rural population in Indonesia has always been higher than the urban poverty rate, despite the high national economic growth and reduced national poverty rate. This trend can also be observed for poverty severity and poverty depth which is due to lack of assets, skills and working opportunities for rural population, among others. Female population in particular, must deal with poverty more than their male counterparts. If poverty is defined as deprivation of capabilities and the absence of freedom to choose whichever kind of life an individual is aspired to, then women suffer more because they have less option to access employment in villages. This paper aims to explore how typical households in small villages in an East Java district prioritise the household (HH) members' access to health, education, job opportunity and inheritance. This paper is written based on parts of the findings from a household socio-economic and public health survey in 5 villages in Pesanggrahan sub district, Banyuwangi, East Java, conducted in late 2011. The findings reveals that in general, male and female HH members are given equal opportunity in terms of access to decision making process within the household, education, inheritance and even more in terms of access to health. Nonetheless, when it comes to access to jobs, priorities are given to the male HH members. Working opportunities are indeed rare, and traditional jobs are dwindling and become more vulnerable in the Indonesian villages nowadays. Competition to enter employment is tougher; therefore while the respondents perceive women as equal to men in many other life aspects, they still see men as the ones who must be the breadwinner. This can be seen as more pressure to men, but it also epitomise the fact that in the society that has no longer practised discrimination against women, less options are available for women to exercise their right to work. As a result, women who lacking options to enter local job market must look for options beyond their village. They are most likely travel abroad to work as migrant domestic workers, and encountering risks. One important lesson drawn is that labour intensive and decent job creation –in or off-farm in rural areas, must be the priority of Indonesian government policies if it aims to achieve a more quality growth and more equal development in urban and rural areas, for men and women.