This study discusses the contemporary interpretation of local women’s leadership framed in the lens of constructed female nature, and of cultural citizenship. The study contests the view which asserts that constructed woman kodrat deeply impedes woman’s social engagement. It argues that kodrat does hinder women's participation but not totally. In other words, the perception of kodrat supports limitedly women's participation. It means women have space and opportunity to socially engage but within the limitation of the perception of kodrat. The scope of this limitation is fluid and can be changed over times and contexts depending on women’s situation and capacities themselves. The more conducive the context they live in and the more capacities they have, the more probable women are able to engage socially. So, basically it discusses women's strategies (experiences) in their effort to bypass the limitations. In this Reformasi era, where democratization and gender equity development are occupying greater space in the Indonesian landscape, opportunities for women’s social engagement are also greater. The challenges of cultural (locally derived) exclusiveness and religious radicalism may also hinder women’s space and opportunities for social activity. However, these challenges certainly will not close space and opportunity to do so, because the opposite powers – democratization and the gender equality movement- are supporting an increased engagement of women in society.
The study focuses on the women leadership based on four cases of woman as Nyai, Ibu or Ummi, Posyandu Kader, woman head of village or urban village, of sub-district, and female member of local parliament (MP) in Tasikmalaya Regency and City. On in one hand, it deals with leadership experience of women in these four cases. On the other hand, it also examines the dynamics of their experience. It is interesting to see on how their struggle to have more public space within their marginality had gone so far, as well as on how they take advantages of the new situation, the Reformasi era for their own interests of their leadership.
As a descriptive study, this thesis deploys Anthony Giddens’s perspective of agency in discussing its findings. The data are arranged into categories, sub-categories and terms, identifying internal and external factor that influence woman social engagement. Internally, it examines woman’s strategies in handling barriers they face, and shortcomings they have. Externally, it also discusses influences that create conditions for women's participation through the analysis of state policies and media’s coverage of women's issues, particularly in the four targeted themes. The study is based on the field work in Tasikmalaya Kota and Kabupaten which was conducted 8 months from the middle of august 2008 to middle of April 2009 and about the same period from April to November 2010.
This study concludes that the perception of the constructed kodrat perempuan is an important factor that determines many women’s civic engagement in the site where the study took place, Tasikmalaya Regency and City. The significance of this study is that it concentrates on the perceptions of various agents -- including the State, religious and social agents, educators, politicians, health activists, etc., -- who all participate in the formulation of what they see as women’s ideal roles and by so doing construct the kodrat perempuan. This study confirms Robinson’s and Blackburn’s conclusion that kodrat perempuan has often been framed as a source of the restriction of women’s civic engagement (Robinson, 2009. p. 192; Blackburn, 2004. p. 223, 229). However, this study finds that women in Tasikmalaya deal with kodrat pragmatically and realistically use it as source of engagement. Rather than seeing kodrat only as a restriction, in Tasikmalaya, women actually managed to create certain degree of space, opportunity and links to engage in social activities. In other words, outside the existing restrictions, women empower themselves and they find solutions suited to them to enable them to get actively engaged in local leadership. Finally, the study also finds that in its wider discourse where the interrelation of the practices of the agents, the State, and the news take place, woman’s civic engagement, seeing from the expression of cultural citizenship, represents their effort to pave the way to become fully equal citizens.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Kodrat Perempuan (Woman’s Nature), Leadership, Civic Engagement, Cultural Citizenship, Interpretation
Promotor D. Douwes (Dick)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
Persistent URL
Kusmana, . (2017, April 13). Contemporary interpretation of Kodrat Prempuan : local discourse of muslim women's leadership in Indonesia. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from