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Investing in Women for a Brighter Future

Widiyasri Lodu, EBPP EMpower Facilitator

As the world celebrates International Women's Day today with the theme to 'Investing in Women,' EBPP’s youth empowerment programs stand at the forefront of change. Our students have spearheaded impactful women’s empowerment projects, determined to bridge gender disparities, especially concerning child marriage and school dropout rates prevalent in our 6 EBPP community villages.

The community research conducted by our junior and senior high students in the EMpower program reveals a reality: most victims affected by child marriage and school dropout are girls. Trapped by outdated mindsets that confine them to domestic roles, they are often married off to older men, denying them their right to education and opportunity.

Since 2016, our students have taken action through the Photovoices program. Through creative mediums like short films, music, and illustrated storybooks, they approached customary village leaders and collaborated with Bali legal aid, government officials, and related stakeholders to shatter stereotypes and champion inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.

By this month, 4 out of 19 customary villages, including 3 from our EBPP community, have ratified Pararem containing rules on child marriage—a testament to our commitment to protect youth. The customary village council commends those who have ratified the customary law and urges others to do so promptly.

Additionally, in our EMpower programs, we organized sports competitions, breaking down barriers by emphasizing girls' inclusion in sports. “By joining mixed-gender competitions, I am more confident now. I dare to play volleyball with boys,” said Wilasmi, a student from Manikaji school.

The commitment to inclusivity and equality reflects this year’s International Women’s Day theme, reminding us that real change begins with determined steps towards a future that values and respects everyone regardless of gender.


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