WHY WERE WE FORMED?
Feminization of poverty is one of the strategic
issues at the global level that severely affects female groups since a
long time ago in developing countries like Indonesia.
But tragically, it remains undetected by the development policymakers as
the affected women, especially the low educated or even the illiterate
ones, try to survive by wrestling with marginal livelihoods which are
also undetected, such as waste collectors, beggars, odd jobs, and other
servitudes unlisted in the development statistics.
As a result, the development policymakers fail to accommodate the issues
of feminization of poverty in development planning so this problem
become increasingly severe, complex, and chronic.
A series of research carried out by the activists of Veganindo
Foundation since 2016 discovered at least three main factors lying
behind the outbreak of the feminization of poverty in Indonesia, namely:
• Compared to men, the bargaining position of women at domestic level is
still very weak. At the same time, women’s social responsibility is much
heavier than men's. Women as housewives, for example, are never involved
in the decision making at domestic level. All public as well as domestic
decisions are dominated by men. On the contrary, most duties and
responsibilities at domestic level are put upon women. The power of a
husband is ever much greater than the power of a wife. A husband is
easier to divorce his wife than vice versa. And if there is a divorce,
most of the domestic responsibilities – primarily raising children –
must be done by women. A widower is also much easier to earn money than
a widow is because widows, unlike widowers, are strictly limited by the
cultural norms. As a result, the widows are much more vulnerable to
poverty than the widowers. All of these situations increasingly trigger
the gender inequality as well as inequity that positions women as a
loser for the men.
• In the meantime, the food prices in all parts of the country continue
to go up significantly from year to year and are increasingly
unreachable by the poor’s purchasing power, especially by needy women as
the breadwinners in their family. As the consequence, the women forcedly
try to meet the food needs of their family members by buying cheapest
foods although the quality is the lowest and are not worth consumed.
This triggers a high rate of morbidity among the needy women along with
all their family members. But these people have no choice.
• Feminization of poverty also makes the poor women unable to buy meat
whose price is skyrocketing. In order to meet the needs of side dishes
in their family, they are forced to eat animal waste products whose
prices are the lowest such as the bowels, skins, clotted blood, the
tongues, and so forth. This sparks the high prevalence of deadly
diseases among the needy women and their family members, primarily
coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gout, etc.
These three issues enormously inhibit the women
being entangled in feminization of poverty and all their family members
to get rid of poverty.
Based on rigorous studies, the founders of Veganindo Foundation firmly
believe that veganism is one of the most effective, efficient, and
eco-friendly solutions in order to release the helpless women from
feminization of poverty. Because by being a vegan, the cost of eating
for everyone becomes very low.
Even the cost of eating is free if each vegan planted her own vegetables
and fruits for daily consumption. If she grew more than she consumes,
and then she sold the surpluses, then surely she will also earn income.
In addition, veganism diet is proved to be able to improve the health
status as well as the life expectancy of the followers. The carbon
footprint is also very less, so it is really eco-friendly.
In this relation, since its inception in 2016
until now Veganindo Foundation has been actively researching and
developing veganism models that could help women facing the feminization
of poverty to get out of the poverty and consequent morbidity.
One of the models is what we call independent vegan lifestyle. In
this context, we motivate, train, and facilitate poor women to be
self-sufficient vegans who manage organic farms by planting their own
food crops and herbal crops that they need every day. Due to this, they
can get rid of hunger and compulsion of eating cheap foods which are not
feasible or harmful to consume.
In addition, they manage to grow vegetables and fruits in quantities
more than their daily need and sell the surpluses so they can have
financial independence and, slowly but surely, escape from absolute
Indeed, the poor women – who live in rural areas, urban slums, let alone
in coastal areas – should be impossible for farming because they have no
land at all. How can they farm properly?
Luckily, the founders of Veganindo Foundation since the beginning has
been raising strategic cooperation with another NGO named Komunitas
Penadbiran Sampah (KPS) or Waste Governance Community. The founders
and managers of KPS are coincidently the followers of environmental
veganism as well.
Learning from KPS, since the last few years, Veganindo Foundation has
successfully developed an organic farming model without land for
landless poor women, namely by planting a variety of food crops and
herbal crops organically on pots upcycled from waste plastic bottles and
bags. Thanks to this program, we have successfully helped a significant
number of our beneficiaries (women as the victims of feminization of
poverty) escape from hunger and poverty in an enormously efficient and
effective way while helping to protect natural ecosystems, mainly rivers
and oceans, from the siege of plastic waste.