Embracing family, Islam and work: women’s economic empowerment in Islamising Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 25 September 2019


McDonald Room, Menzies Library, 2 McDonald Place, ANU


Minako Sakai, UNSW Canberra


ANU Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 5954

This study aims to examine how middle-class Muslim women are dealing with the contradictory gender expectations arising from their economic and domestic roles. Amidst this emerging trend, Muslim women are breaking into areas that are new for women, even into occupations of which negative public perceptions exist.

In developing their businesses, Muslim women actively engage in almsgivings and charitable activities to assist the community, while making their harmonious family life public. With the heightened importance of publicly performed Muslim piety among the middle-class Indonesians, this paper argues that strategically utilising Islamic discourses plays an important role in mitigating a potential gender role tension and also in facilitating women’s economic activities.

The paper shows that middle-class Muslim women exemplify appropriate discourses to support income-generating activities with reference to Islam. Consequently, community perceptions of these Muslim businesswomen are becoming positive, indirectly fostering the women’s expanding entrepreneurial and business initiatives in increasingly Islamising Indonesia. Utilising such discourses to assist Muslim women’s agency is essential in achieving middle-class women’s economic empowerment in Indonesia.

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