Institute Mosintuwu: A place for Poso women
Making a difference: Lian Gogali (right) poses with her family. Gogali is working with American documentary filmmaker Sue Useem on The Peace Agency, a film about the women’s peace movement in Poso.Institute Mosintuwu is run out of Gogali’s home in Tentena. She runs it with two of her friends and her sister; all come from mixed religious backgrounds.
The school covers six topics: women in peace; gender and domestic violence; women in politics; women in culture; socioeconomic, cultural and civil political rights; and economic management for families and communities.
Gogali focuses particular attention on women in culture.
“In Poso, our daily life is influenced by culture. [There are] rules for when you marry and when you want to divorce or when there is domestic violence. Also, [there is] the cultural perspective of the land. We are looking for how to make the culture less gender biased toward women,” Gogali said.
The classes are run largely by the students themselves. They decide when they will hold class, who will be the leader and what changes they would like to make. They are assisted by a trained facilitator who provides information about each topic and makes sure that the conversations are working toward a solution.
“We just facilitate getting the information and spreading the ideas to them,” Gogali said.
Classes are discussion focused. Some lessons include homework for the women like things to bring home and discuss with their husbands and children.
Conflict resolution: Women from various religious backgrounds can attend the Institute Mosintuwu in Poso, where there is a focus on women in culture.Violence in the household is the most controversial topic, primarily because Christianity and Islam in Poso are still very patriarchal, with women often treated like second-class citizens.
“When Lian holds class, the women don’t even talk about it — they write it down. It is a scary thing to talk about because the women don’t want to get beat again by their husbands for talking about it,” Useem said.
However, for Gogali, that is an illustration of why these classes are necessary. Many women in Poso have only an elementary school education and don’t know, for example, that domestic abuse is illegal in Indonesia and that they have a right to fight against it. Gogali wants to empower women with education, which they can use in their own defense and to help avoid future conflict within their own communities.
The six-topic curriculum can be completed in approximately six months, at which point Gogali has three goals: “First, I hope the women will practice the ideas in their family and community. Second, we try to give them a way to spread the ideas through their work and get their employment organizations on board. Third, we hope they will make their own women’s organizations [based on Institute Mosintuwu’s model] that can speak up about women’s problems and interests. We help facilitate this and train them how to manage it.”
Gogali believes that women are the best peace agents because they have the ability to look beyond the historical facts of conflict and see it from a community-based perspective. For example, Gogali noted during the Poso conflict that women warned neighbors to get out if danger, even as their husbands and sons fought each other from opposing sides. Thus, Gogali hopes to use Institute Mosintuwu to encourage women to take a more prominent role in negotiations within the family and to affect decision-making in order for more peaceful solutions to future conflicts.
“The more you give women a chance to negotiate the terms of peace instead of men, the more likely you are to come through with a peaceful solution,” Gogali said.