Indonesien: Galuh Wandita

Women living in conflict areas need help to enter the public arena, grab the microphone and influence the decision-makers, if not be the decision-makers themselves.

— Galuh Wandita

Galuh Wandita (born 1966) is an activist working for human rights in conflict areas. She frames her work with a gender perspective irrespective of whether it deals with industry/corporate-triggered conflict in Kalimantan or Papua or atrocities following the referendum in East Timor prior to the birth of the new nation. With her professional contribution spanning more than a dozen years, Galuh has established herself in the forefront of the feminist movement. Her work has not only changed the lives of the people she works for, but also the way human rights are applied, promoted and protected.

Galuh Wandita was in East Timor during the referendum in 1999 where she witnessed terrible human rights violations on an unthinkable scale. "That is when I saw the worst and the best of human beings," she says. "That is probably what made me stay for another five years – to heal my own trauma by pro-actively working with the people in the process of reconciliation." At the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), Galuh Wandita carries out a mandate to record the human rights violations that took place in East Timor from 1974 to 1999, helping to document confessions and public hearings, lending support to the victims, rehabilitating them and facilitating reconciliation between those who committed lesser crimes – such as burning, looting and minor assaults – and the communities they victimized. Galuh has been working on the impact of human rights violations on women for more than a dozen years. She worked for an NGO in the US dealing with reproductive health and HIV/Aids. In Indonesia, in 1989, she worked in the field of women and development, joining Oxfam Great Britain, which was starting to move from a welfare-based approach to a rights-based approach to development. Moving to East Nusa Tenggara, one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, she got in touch with individuals and groups working with factory workers, urban slum dwellers and poor rural communities in the faraway eastern islands. Later, as Oxfam Australia’s Country Representative in Indonesia, she developed a program to support local groups run by indigenous community leaders fighting for survival in conflict areas in the eastern islands, including West Papua, Kalimantan, East and West Timor.

Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR)