Zohra Andi Baso – Indonesia

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Zohra Andi Baso (born 1952) is an activist working on empowering women to be aware of their rights so they can defend them. She began as a journalist and a consumer rights activist focusing on women. She has shifting focus onto dealing with violence against women, both in domestic and public spaces, social and political, through an organization she founded, the Forum for Women’s Issues in South Sulawesi, her home province. The endless work has kept her from finishing her dissertation for her doctorate degree.Coming from a royal family in the South Sulawesi (Celebes island) province, Zohra Andi Baso grew up with certain privileges. But she never cared for the feudalism and conservatism that accompanied them. “Even in my time, with all the money our family had, the girls were advised to stop going to school after finishing elementary,” she says, laughing.
As the youngest in a line of cousins, Zohra saw her older female cousins getting married so early (right after the elementary school), simply because the junior high school was in a bigger town, and the family didn’t want them to move away. As the eldest of three daughters, she managed to escape this cultural trap, thanks to her faithful ally in the family, her own mother. “My mother said one of us (three) had to continue studying. She got it from one side of her grandfather’s clan,” Zohra explains. One of her sisters got married not long after she graduated from junior high school, and the other, like her, continued her studies … She says: “I want justice for women. I want them to be aware of their rights and be brave enough to stand up whenever these are violated” … (1000peacewomen 1/2).

She is named as political heroe.

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Zohra Andi Baso – Indonesia

She works for the South Sulawesi Consumer Association, for the Forum for Women’s Issues in South Sulawesi (both not found in the internet), and for the Indonesian Women’s Coalition KPI (named on human trafficking.org).

Find some articles in english:

Find her and her publications on National Library of Australia, Catalogue; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

Find many articles in Indonesian language with her name in:

(on 1000peacewomen 2/2): … Zohra says of her privileged childhood: “I never understood why we needed to be treated differently, such as asking four people to lift us on their shoulders in a beautifully decorated ‘cage’, or people getting off from their bikes in a rush upon seeing our cars coming from afar.” But she loved listening to her mother and aunts tell family stories. One of them was about the great-grandfather of Zohra’s mother, whose entire family was sent to exile in Padang, West Sumatra, by the Dutch colonizers.

As part of the progressive elite of Minang (the ethnic city in West Sumatra), they were inspired to pursue modern education, and this became a model for little Zohra. “I don’t really know,” she shrugs when asked what triggered her adult activism. “Perhaps it was the injustice I saw as part of our life back then, and these fascinating family stories lingered in my mind, and inspired me to do what I’m doing now.”

As a student activist in the mid-1970s, she spoke up publicly against the injustice suffered by women. She also joined PKBI (an NGO dealing with family planning). The Suharto era managed to reduce population growth during its 32-year tenure, this was often achieved by making women follow blindly the national campaign on family planning and birth control, totally unaware of their rights and the effects of the program on their own bodies. For example, they were not told about the side effects of the contraceptives they were made to take, and were not given a choice whether or not they wanted to take it.

After graduating from Communication Studies in Hasanuddin University, Zohra embarked on a 16-year career as a journalist covering various issues, such as injustice suffered by women. In 1987, she joined the YLKI South Sulawesi, an NGO which worked mainly in generating consumer awareness of their rights through campaigns, training, advocacy and public discussions on wide-ranging issues–among them, women’s issues. Zohra focused on the consumer rights of women and children, which led her to issues of women’s rights and women’s welfare.

To deal with a wider scope of issues, she founded the Forum for Women’s Issues in South Sulawesi in 1995. The work this time was focused not only on media campaigns or advocacy, but also on facilitation, such as capacity building for women in the villages.

Its campaigns ranged from anti-violence against women to women in the public sphere, reproductive health, mother mortality rate, education and others. In times of conflict, Zohra helped organize anti-violence campaigns. When an ethnic riot rocked South Sulawesi in 1996, Zohra quickly supported the community by being a mediator in solving the problem. In 1999, when South Sulawesi was one of the refugee camps for people escaping the inter-religious riots in Maluku Island, Zohra co-ordinated emergency and humanitarian assistance.

A devout Moslem, Zohra once publicly disagreed with some factions in society who sought special treatment for South Sulawesi equal to Nanggroe Aceh, regarding the application of Islamic law. “We are a multi-cultural society. Let’s face it. It (her disagreement) generated a debate, so be it. It’s healthy,” she says.

Zohra sees herself continuing to work on the issues she is familiar with. “Homework is aplenty. Even the middle class, those well-educated ones, I still hear them speak against women’s progress. Meanwhile, in the grass-roots level, we are facing a totally different problem. We must address them all.” In the various stages of her life–as a student activist, a journalist, an NGO activist, and a change agent, this woman from a very traditional society has broken the cultural barrier that once stopped women from being decision makers and leading dignified lives in a gender-equal society. Even on a personal level, Zohra is controversial. She broke the taboo among South Sulawesi women on not being married at her age. (1000peacewomen).

links:

Strategies to Enhance the Political Participation of Women in Indonesia, 2003-06-24;

Diasporic subjects: Gender and mobility in south sulawesi.

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