Making dreams real for Indonesia’s female migrant workers

For Indonesia's rural female workforce, the dream of going abroad is tainted by fear of documented human rights abuses. EAI committed to change that.

With few opportunities to support their families, many Indonesians in rural areas of the country consider the option of migrating abroad. According to the World Bank, in 2016 an estimated 9 million Indonesians worked overseas, accounting for almost 7 percent of the country’s labor force. But excluded from these figures are people like Roslaini Simatupang who goes by Aini, who must often resort to unauthorized means if they wish to go abroad. 

Aini is a poor 28-year old woman who lives in Northern Sumatra. She works as a tenant farmer, planting rice fields that she rents. Her children are also tenant farmers and her husband works at construction sites. To earn more money, Aini considers migrating aboard to become a maid but with little to no awareness of her rights, she knows she is at the mercy of a huge system and those who know how to exploit it.

This is where EAI’s Dreams and Reality radio program steps in. In this show produced as part of EAI’s Indonesia-based program Addressing Migrant Labor Issues Along Supply Chains migrant workers are given safety precautions when choosing opportunities abroad. With an audience of close to 8,000 listeners, Dreams and Reality is broadcast by community radio stations in rural districts, stations which discuss local issues that are particularly relevant to their young female listeners.

Indeed, Aini says that listening to an episode on the working conditions and benefits she could expect abroad, helped her feel better informed about the risks and the migration process in general. For her, like for most Indonesians in North Sumatra, migrant labor issues are often limited to news reports about the abuse of migrants.

Indeed, Krisdayanti, a 14-year-old junior high student in the same area explains that these stories have stoked a very real fear of migrating for work. But through the program, she has come to see that a big part of the abuse is related to underground dealings with the calo, unauthorized brokers, who rely on forged documents. Using this key information relayed to her through the program, she is now helping friends of her age group protect themselves.

The critical information relayed by Dreams and Reality has sparked a chain of awareness in the area especially for mothers like 24-year old Dewi Kairani Hasibuan. Aided by the information in an episode about whom to trust in the migration process, Dewi helped another mother stop her her daughter and nine other girls from the village from going abroad to Malaysia illegally. An unknown agent had offered them positions at an agricultural plantation and following Dewi’s investigation, it was revealed that the agents were not legally registered to recruit workers in Indonesia. 



Partner with Us

To educate and inform migrant workers of their rights.

Learn More