International Women's Day 2021: The West Sulawesi Women's Collective

At World Jewish Relief we know that investing in a woman’s livelihood is one of the most effective ways to strive for a better world in which human rights are realised, and women and girls can reach their potential and build independent and dignified lives.

To mark International Women’s Day, we are sharing the stories of a few women who have been through our employment programmes. Having faced immense challenges, from displacement and conflict to disasters, they have successfully built or rebuilt their livelihoods, found employment and become independent. Here is the story of the West Sulawesi Women's Collective:

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On 15 January 2021 a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the West Sulawesi Province in Indonesia, followed by 32 aftershocks over the following day. The earthquake killed 84, injured 932 and displaced approximately 40,000 people. World Jewish Relief immediately reached out to our local partner IBU Foundation, a local volunteer-based NGO, and we coordinated a joint disaster response.

As well as providing immediate relief including food, shelter, hygiene products and psychological assistance, World Jewish Relief will always assess the local community’s long-term needs and determine where we can assist in meeting these. After the West Sulawesi Earthquake local crops and agricultural land had been destroyed, and small local businesses also took a hit. We embarked on a project supporting local livelihood recovery, including agriculture, fishing, and women’s microbusinesses.

Along with IBU Foundation we offered assistance to a women’s collective comprising of three microbusinesses, one of which produces coconut oil. Through the project we were able to help these women purchase the equipment they needed to resume the laborious task of producing the oil. We also helped the group to purchase the raw materials required to get production underway and the business generating a profit once again.

With this support, the women were able to increase their productivity and their household incomes, providing much-needed stability in the aftermath of the disaster. The women report feeling more enthusiastic and motivated to resume their professional lives despite the enormous devastation they have experienced. They describe how with the right resources, they are now able to cooperate and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, in order to grow the business and help it to thrive.

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