Trans Women as Agents of Change: Towards Disaster Resilient and Inclusive Indonesia

Facing discrimination and stigma does not stop the trans women community in Surabaya to contribute to East Java societies. Mid-December 2020, LeaN On by INVEST DM had a courtesy visit to report the outreach progress to the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of East Java province. In that meeting, the Surabaya Trans Women Association (PERWAKOS), who is part of the LeaN On outreach team under PLATO Foundation and ASB Indonesia-Philippines supervision, conveyed their proposition to collaborate with BPBD and scale up the COVID-19 community-based outreach to more areas in East Java.

Febby Damayanti, a staff of PERWAKOS, accompanied by representatives from the Plato Foundation and ASB Indonesia-Philippines visited the BPBD East Java office

Opportunely, the Head of Prevention and Preparedness Division of East Java BPBD, Gatot Soebroto, approved the proposal. Besides proclaiming a commitment to engage the trans women community and people with disabilities as agents of change in disaster management, BPBD followed on their positive reception with a donation of two thousand face-masks to PERWAKOS to support their outreach.

Consignment of mask donations from BPBD to the representative of LeaN On by INVEST DM caseworkers, Febby Damayanti, who is also a staff at PERWAKOS, in the presence of the Plato Foundation and ASB Indonesia-Philippines

Gatot Soebroto handed over the mask donation to Febby Damayanti, one of the PERWAKOS representatives. PERWAKOS will have its caseworkers distribute the masks to the marginalized members of communities in LeaN On target areas in East Java. Furthermore, BPBD also commits to donating staple groceries (sembako) to the trans women communities in Surabaya and arranging free PCR swab tests for LeaN On caseworkers who develop COVID-19 symptoms.

BPBD realized their commitment in three weeks. “We received the sembako from East Java BPBD on Friday, January 8, 2021. They provided a total of 263 packages of staple groceries for trans women in Surabaya. Next, we will apply for assistance for fellow trans women in Sidoarjo and greater Malang. Following this mutual collaboration, PERWAKOS is recruiting more members to join an upcoming agent of change training which BPBD will organize,” explained Denok, one of PERWAKOS management team.

Staple groceries distributed by BPBD East Java to the transgender community in Surabaya

The synergy among LeaN On by INVEST DM partners, marginalized communities, and policymakers was the right avenue towards more inclusive disaster management in the future. “This is good news. We hope when LeaN On program transition-out, the legacy is not only the access to information and behavior change related to COVID-19 among marginalized groups but also good relationship and their inclusion in local disaster management policy-making,” said dr. Sri Kusuma Hartani, Director of LeaN On by INVEST DM Program.

LeaN On by INVEST DM is an inclusive RCCE program that aims to provide access to risk information and education on COVID-19 prevention, including information on available social protection services, for 165 thousand people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in seven regions in Indonesia. This program is supported by the American people through USAID, and in partnership with BNPB, Kemenkumham, MAJu (The Asia Foundation) and a consortium of partners consisting of Mercy Corps Indonesia, ASB, ThisAble, Human Initiative and AtmaConnect.

LeaN On by INVEST DM is a USAID funded COVID-19 risk communications & engagement of people with disabilities & vulnerable groups in seven regencies in Indonesia