November 17, 2015

Change Starts With Us: Aceh Women for Peace Foundation

Mama Cash grantee Aceh Women for Peace Foundation reflects on the ingredients for impact.

Mama Cash’s grantee partners are doing amazing work for women, girls, and trans people in their communities and around the world. In an eleven part series, we will share some of these inspiring stories of change. This is the story of Aceh Women for Peace Foundation.

Aceh Women for Peace Foundation (AWPF) was established in 2009 to address gender inequalities and injustices resulting from the Aceh conflict and insurgency which took place from 1976 to 2005. AWPF’s mission is to mobilise women and work with them to understand their social, economic, and political rights; demand access to justice; and become key players in the peace-building process.

The Challenge

The 2005 peace agreement ended armed conflict in Aceh and gave it the status of special autonomous region of Indonesia. Since the peace agreement, a series of qanuns, or regulations, have built the framework for sharia law in the region. In September 2014 the Aceh provincial administration and legislative council approved the Qanun Jinayat which obliges every Muslim and non-Muslim in Aceh to follow sharia. This is considered the final step in the full introduction of sharia, which now exists side by side with national law and customary law.

AWPF believes that sharia law, if interpreted and implemented properly, can provide the legal framework to restore peace and justice after the 30-year-long conflict. But, they say, it is not being implemented properly. They point to article 231 of law number 11, adopted in 2006, on the protection of the rights of women and children. “Despite article 231 we have no equality,” the group explains. “Sharia police controls the way we dress, the way we behave. But not the way men dress and behave. It’s unequal. It’s not just.”

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