Indonesia’s Tourism a Win for Women

Of: Minako Sakai, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School (Research), School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra Australia, | Ajie Saksono, Head of the Governance, Social and Culture Division at Gunung Kidul Regional Planning Agency, Yogyakarta.

Resort villages offer women the opportunity to earn money for their family and local community without leaving their homes.

Women who return money to their families have been hailed as heroes for raising Indonesia’s foreign exchange. But reports of abuse by employers abroad persist. The execution of two Indonesian maids in Saudi Arabia led to a total ban on sending women as domestic workers to 21 countries (mainly in the Middle East) in 2015. But only in July 2022 a temporary contract was established against sending of Indonesian maids in Malaysia.

Indonesia’s vibrant resort villages offer a safer way to make a living.

In the Indonesian agricultural sector, rural women earn less than men and patriarchy is perpetuated. Although women are actively involved in agricultural production such as weeding and harvesting, they lack the physical strength to clear the land and plow. Women do more unpaid housework, including food preparation and daily chores, and take care of livestock. The Indonesian desa wisata program, or tourist village, is emerging as an alternative where rural women can choose to generate an income.

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The popular Banyuwangi tourism regency of East Java province hosts people with some of the lowest minimum monthly wages (1.7 million rupees or approximately US $ 117 per month) in the region. But it is also known as the center of traditional culture of Osing, an indigenous ethnic group, where a wide range of festivals combined with dance and music are preserved and promoted as cultural attractions for tourists. The area offers tranquil views over the rice fields with a variety of culinary traditions choices, including aromatic coffee.

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Desa wisata can help alleviate poverty by promoting host families as a way for visitors to have an authentic experience based on the traditional character of the destination. In 2022, the village will organize 99 festivals, with an app developed by the government to allow potential visitors to browse the offer. Using the app, tourists can book their homestay accommodation and order traditional local food from Banyuwangi. Under the government’s Smart Kampung (village) program, villagers can participate in a digital economy platform to fulfill food orders.

Cooking local specialties, handicrafts, and taking care of guests typically falls to women in traditional Indonesian families. These extra job opportunities have enabled women to become secondary income earners in addition to their household chores. Furthermore, research increasingly shows that rising family income brings additional benefits for families: delaying child marriages, increasing spending on children’s education, and a reduction in gender-based violence. All of this contributes to promoting gender equality. According to data from the World Bank, the vast majority (85%) of the beneficiaries of the urban digital gig economy in Indonesia in 2021 were men. But in the case of desa wisata, women can also experience the benefits of the smart kampung program by sharing the opportunity to start a new business.


The resulting increase in their earnings can contribute to the well-being of their family and gradually women’s voices are likely to be better recognized in decision-making in rural development policies.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info ™.


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