Alliances of Instrumental Advantage: Supporting Women’s Agency in Civil Society Organisations in Indonesia

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Alliances of Instrumental Advantage: Supporting Women’s Agency in Civil Society Organisations in Indonesia


  • Stephen Sherlock School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia


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Abstract:  This article examines how Indonesian civil society organisations (CSOs) working for women’s empowerment and gender equality have worked together with members of parliament (MPs) to support processes of developmental change. Examples are taken from initiatives supported by MAMPU, an Australian government funded project that promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment in Indonesia, describing ways in which gender-focused organisations have engaged with, and had an impact upon, the actions of political leaders in parliament. The article focuses on interaction between institutions and the agency exercised by individuals within institutions. MPs act within a structure of institutional and political incentives, but they also have the power to make choices about how they respond to incentives. Moreover, the leaders of outside actors such as CSOs can modify the structure of incentives by both applying pressure on MPs and providing opportunities for legislators to make different choices. One of MAMPU’s tools for targeting MPs has been political economy analysis. Having correctly understood the pressures and incentives facing MPs, CSOs can target their actions to bring about outcomes favourable to both sides in what the article calls ‘alliances of instrumental advantage.’ Organisations supported by MAMPU achieved success where relationships were forged between the organisations and politicians based on the identification of mutual advantage.

Keywords:  civil society organisations; Indonesia; political change; political economy; women’s empowerment

Published:   25 November 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i4.3347


© Stephen Sherlock. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.