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Bringing women's voices into decision-making in Sukabumi and honoring tradition and nature in Kasepuhan Cipta Gelar


The Photovoices Sukabumi project spanned a total of 11 villages across five sub-districts and centred around women’s rights and government transparency. 


Among those villages, one village called Kasepuhan Ciptagelar was also chosen for its unique focus on traditions and local wisdom related to sustainable use of natural resources.



districts in Sukabumi were selected


villages participated in the project


volunteer photographers took part


facilitators were assigned


photographs and accompanying stories were produced




In many parts of Indonesia, women have often been left out of the village's Musrenbang (Consensus-based Development Planning) process which is an annual forum for stakeholders to discuss village development planning. 

The Sukabumi Project centered on women’s participation in the village planning and budgeting process. The formal Indonesian village development planning process (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan (Musrenbang), or Consensus-based Development Planning) is generally promoted as a participatory, bottom up process involving stakeholders from government, private sector, and the general public; however, women have been conspicuously absent in these efforts in many parts of Indonesia.

PVI project in Sukabumi specifically addressed women's participation in this key area. Partnering up with two strategic partners: PPSW (Center for Women's Development) and FITRA (Forum for Transparent Budgeting), PVI provided 30 women volunteers with basic  training in photography and presentation; led them in identification of village development needs and critical discussions on the issues and prioritization. 


The women's succcessful advocacy resulted in the construction of health clinics, roads and bridges, irrigation facilities, and sanitation projects in Sukabumi, and many of the women’s project proposals were selected for funding support.


This project received a strong endorsement by the Regent of Sukabumi, with village leaderships acknowledged the photo documentation produced by the women as compelling visual evidence of the village’s development needs. 


PVI's project in Kasepuhan Ciptagelar, an adjunct to the women’s empowerment work in Sukabumi District, represents themes that have historically been of central interest to Photovoices International – the nexus between traditional culture and nature.  


Kasepuhan Ciptagelar is an ancient indigenous community in West Java, tracing its origins to 1366 AD. It represents a unique remnant of traditional Sundanese culture while facing all the challenges of being an enclave community within government-created Gunung Halimun National Park since 1992. 


PVI project received a full blessing and support from Abah Ugi, King of Kasepuhan Ciptagelar. At the end of the project, Kasepuhan leaders presented their photographs at an exhibition in Sukabumi, documenting the rituals, ceremonies, and cultural traditions of the ancient community as well as beautiful images of nature and community life inside the National Park. They were also subsequently invited to present at the International Funders for Indigenous People's Summit in Bali in 2011.



  1. Increased women’s capacity and access to influence decision-making arenas

  2. Issues related to water, sanitation, road and bridge infrastructure, reproductive health, education and nutrition were acknowledged and addressed.

  3. Photos and data shared by women participants helped village government officials make a stronger case for the proposed projects in the review and approval process at the Sub-District and District levels.  

  4. Women’s advocacy resulted in the construction of community health clinics, roads and bridges, irrigation facilities, and housing and sanitation projects.  

  5. According to village leaders interviewed during the evaluation, the women’s proposals were so successful that “in some communities, photos are now viewed as an essential requirement for any proposal to Musrenbang.”


  1. The community identified education as a critical issue, especially since many young people in Ciptagelar faced challenges in completing primary education. 

  2. As a result of the project findings, the Kasepuhan itself moved to focus attention and effort on building a more robust, though decidedly informal, educational system.

  3. PVI Participant advocacy resulted in funding for specific projects, including road construction.

  4. Initial progress on bridging the differences between the Kasepuhan and the Gunung Halimun Salak National Park can be observed, including plans for community conservation and eco-tourism projects.


Throughout the project in Ciptagelar, Photovoices' data analyst (Umi Kusumawati) and site facilitator (Taufik Q. Rahman) provided ongoing training, facilitation and documentation, as well as helped in guiding the selection and validating critical themes in the focus group discussions. 


At the request of the Kasepuhan's leader, Abah Ugi, Umi also played a vital role as an intermediary with the village and district-level government officials in delivering findings and recommendations developed by the community. Umi eventually married into the community, becoming a resident, and continues to bridge the historical divisions (and frequent misunderstandings) between the traditional Kasepuhan community and the more modern Indonesian administrative structures.


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