against poverty

Women Against the Higher Price Fuels

The story of women protest against higher price fuel is untold stories. Along the history of Indonesian nation, women (and men) in line to bought limited fuels, especially kerosene. That was the story of Indonesia worrisome, especially women who lives in rural areas. Women upbringing, were socially raised to care more for other. They worrier about their future, their life and their family on and on when all price is getting higher, while their economic status staged. All cause by the higher price of fuel.

It is women mostly mothers who has to manage survival of their family, without affected much by the industrial and capitalization community. Their practice subsistence perspective, give strength to manage and maintain fulfill the needs with nature give, and reserve them in return. For fuels, many women do not using petroleum and do not use money in their mode of trades. Petroleum is obvious form of industry and money is the other word for industry.

Fuels; firewood, oil, coal, and gas. There are natural resource now, has its greater function in vivacious society. These energy mainly functions are for public purpose and domestic. For human wellbeing meets their needs. Fuels energy for public used for mode mass production in factory, and domestic purpose for every household to cook food in order to get hygiene foods. Energy dominated used function of fuels by male, are drain from earth’s exploitation, oil, coal and gas “petroleum production”. Selling petroleum product is big profit as well as need big capital. An oil company becomes wealthy by exploiting the land and people of countries it explores in.

Women do not share ownership in many oil companies. And the second used energy of fuels are for domestic, mostly manage by women, and it was not always petroleum, it is too firewood. For petroleum product, women are consumer, not producers. They do not own capital, skill, and natural resources for petroleum exploration or exploitation. Women do not have much chance to works offshore and involved to explore and exploit earth for oil. Male domination in public is rigid for mechanic works, especially in Oil Company. But it was women who actually have to deal with oil for daily basis of human lives. Women need fuels for cooking. Now, petroleum is the only fuels provide in urban areas, and kerosene is replacement of firewood.

Not until 1980s most Jakarta’s people using kerosene. There were still many households using firewood. Even my family, and neighborhood up until 1975, at houses for civil servant in South Jakarta were used firewood and kerosene. They were collected unused timber, from home industry of handicraft and furniture, for free.

In many parts of Indonesia, until today still use firewood for household need and home industry. When I was joined field study in 1994 in Waliwis village, Tanggerang district about 70 km from Jakarta, many households and home industry still using firewood. They bought firewood from local merchants. Even back than, there still not have any electricity. Now, less and less people using firewood, though millions families in rural areas are still. They are using firewood as traditional way they know and could afford. It is not by choice. They don’t know any other available fuels. Even though they could afford to buy kerosene, its not always stock in near areas. But still women manage to keep their family life and cooks. How women do that, rarely mention in news. Women embrace habit, genuine way to preserve life, as they were gave birth life. One of them is mode of trade barter, where money is not involved.

Barter as mode of trade has been and practice by women in: Lombok Timur, Lombok Tengah, West Nusa Tenggara; Lamalera in East Nusatenggara: Sukolilo, Pati, and Central Java, in East Java; and many others. Barter is mode of trade in part of Central Lombok, Eastern Lombok and Southern Lombok while in dry season. Goods to trade are mostly clothes and food. This mode of trade has basic relation intra human. They do not need large vehicle and do not use petroleum. These are real complementary and trust system. In Java people whose using barter as mode of trade mostly lives in village where still influenced by Samin movement. That is a disobedient movement against Dutch colonial tax system.

In dry season, people in Kawo village, Panujak village, Batujai, Selonk Blanak (West Nusantenggara) barter pieces rock for corn, rice and clothes. In October to December go out from their village to become labor or they look for rock and stones and sell to other village whose might need stone for build a house.

Most people who do not trade in conventional/modern market are for distance reason. Markets are far away from their place. With very limited transportation they preferred to sale what they have around. During the higher price of fuel, most people in village do not have direct impact. They do not need kerosene, they still using firewood.

While women throughout Indonesia, across class has agreed that petroleum fuels price should not increase, do not knows how to expressed their anxiety and confused. Only few women with awareness, bravely and extra energy put their view in the street with demonstration. But that does not mean women agreed. There were mothers who join demonstration month before new fuels induced by government. That was Suara Ibu Peduli. Though they have thousands of members throughout Jakarta to Bogor, it is difficult to create huge mass of women to protest and sounding their voice. Women have to do what they have to do at home, preparing the needs member of the family. If they join the protest, who will do the work, they do not have helper (maid) in family. And the result look dreary, too many

demonstrations, too many protests, but limited mass.

Anyhow, despite the fact of limited mass and demonstrators, that was the effort showing of disagreement of increasing petroleum price. And in time of democracy process, there were too, has effort of showing of the conformity. There were middle class Indonesia, mostly middle and upper class from academic, jurnalism, or activist background, agreed, so agree, that they even put an advertisement to support policy to increasing petroleum price, in Kompas. They were put their name in name of Freedom Institute, their list name are: Andi Mallarangeng, Anggito Abimanyu, Ayu Utami, Bimo Nugroho, Franz Magnis Soeseno, Lin Che Wei, Dana Iswara, Dino Pati Djalal. The advertisement said “WHY WE SUPPORT DECREASING PETROLEUM SUBSIDED”, with argument prepared by LPEM UI (Lembaga Penelitian Ekonomi Manajemen Universitas Indonesia/Economic Management Research Institute University of Indonesia) “assumption” data on the impact of higher price fuels. One page advertisement in Kompas, is expensive cost for an ad almost 90 millions rupiahs. Strategically printed Saturday (26 February 2005), where many people buy that newspaper for looking of vacancy advertisement. I guess for the first time, it is rather good to have limited women in public, for there were only 4 women out of 36 who put their names in the list. That was at least, showed middle class women do not have to stand the opposite with majority women, lower class women.

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