J-PAL Southeast Asia at 10: Gender

Visiting a local women’s organization during an exploratory study on child marriage.
Visiting a local women’s organization during an exploratory study on child marriage.
Photo: Ittaqi Fawzia | J-PAL

Empowering Female Migrant Workers to Access Quality Overseas Placement Services in Indonesia: Current and former J-PAL affiliated researchers Simone Schaner (University of Southern California), Lisa Cameron (University of Melbourne), Firman Witoelar (Australian National University), and Samuel Bazzi (UC San Diego) partnered with the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) to evaluate the impact of providing information about the quality of migration agencies to potential female migrants on migrant welfare and the migration market. Findings show that providing women with report cards which showed agencies’ ratings slowed migration, as women prefer to wait for an offer from high-quality agencies, which can lead to better pre-departure training and better overseas experience with their employers.

Improving Digital Literacy and Financial Inclusion of Female Micro-Entrepreneurs through Microcredit: J-PAL affiliated researcher Arya Gaduh (University of Arkansas) and co-author Arief Wibisono Lubis (Universitas Indonesia) are conducting an exploratory study to understand women’s barriers to digital technology and digital financial services in order to inform potential interventions designed to enhance their adoption of digital lending. The exploratory study finds that the majority of women have strong motivation to utilize digital technology for their businesses. However, surveyed microentrepreneurs often lack confidence and face challenges in navigating more complex apps like e-commerce and e-wallets. These women were also found to have concerns regarding the security risks of digital technology. 

An Experiment on Releasing Untapped Labor Market Potential of Women in Indonesia: Women continue to struggle to have strong job market attachment and are more likely to exit the labor market due to caregiving and domestic responsibilities. In Indonesia, former J-PAL affiliated researcher Firman Witoelar (Australian National University) and his co-author Nurina Merdikawati (J-PAL SEA) are studying interventions to address the skills mismatch and information frictions specifically targeted to women who intend to enter or reenter the job market, such as online training vouchers, face-to-face soft skills training, job search training and assistance. The pilot study results are forthcoming. 

​​The Impact of Premarital Counseling on the Economic and Psychosocial Well-being of Women: Women’s labor market aspirations and decisions are often shaped by their marital status and the quality of their spouse and relationship. In Indonesia, J-PAL affiliated researcher Reshmaan Hussam (Harvard) and her co-authors Nurina Merdikawati (J-PAL SEA) and Madeline McKelway (Dartmouth) are conducting a study on how a pre-marital counseling program in Indonesia impacts marital matching, female well-being within the marriage, and female labor force participation and occupational choice. The pilot study results are forthcoming. 

Challenging Child Marriage Perceptions Among Teenagers and Parents in Indonesia: J-PAL affiliated researcher Gumilang Aryo Sahadewo (Universitas Gadjah Mada) and his co-author Milda Irhamni, conducted a randomized evaluation in six East and Central Java districts to examine whether an informational campaign, through a short movie, can change the beliefs and perceptions influencing child marriage among teenagers and parents, including the persistent and sensitive perceptions born out of religious beliefs. The research finds overall improved perceptions among girls about child marriage issues and the associated risk, and that the intervention was successful in improving parents' perceptions of social norms around child marriage. However, the intervention had no effect on boys' overall perceptions.