Motivation and aspiration: what lies behind the Wonder Women program
"What was your motivation to join the program?"
This is the question I’ve always asked our Wonder Women whenever I’ve had the chance to meet them. With sparkling eyes and fiery passion they always give the same answer,
"I want to help the people in my community to improve their lives."
This sincere motivation is key in driving these women to connect clean energy technologies within their communities. By the end of 2017 - the three-year mark since the Wonder Women program started in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia - Kopernik has worked with more than 500 inspiring women who have distributed more than 30,000 technologies throughout the province.
These technologies have proven to be beneficial to end-users in a number of ways. Our impact assessment data estimated a total household saving of USD 1.9 million from all distributed products over three years. Additionally, the program has also brought positive change for the Wonder Women themselves. Besides earning additional income - averaging USD 22 per month - the women also reveal that they have fulfilled personal aspirations such as helping others in their communities, gaining new experiences, and expanding their networks.
As Senior Communications Officer for Kopernik, I have been fortunate to build meaningful connections with many of these women through my work. I have interviewed countless Wonder Women to learn more about their stories, supported them to present at national events, and I’ve even been invited to stay overnight in their houses. I have heard and felt first-hand just how important the program really is for these women and their communities.
In Larantuka, on the very eastern tip of Flores, I got to know Mama Mia.
She is an ex-public servant who wanted to continue serving people during her retirement and decided to join the program. With her infectious smile, she told me that she used to walk from one village to another, meeting new people, and communicating about the government’s family planning scheme - a concept that was quite bizarre for the people to understand at the time. Upon reflection, she exclaims with a laugh, talking about clean energy technology is simple by comparison.
Mama Mia enjoys using funny analogies and humor to explain new and unusual ideas. People in her community love the way she introduces the technologies. And as a Wonder Woman she feels that she is able to serve her community again: “I am happy as long as the people in my community are happy,” she tells me enthusiastically. And with this much compassion, she was quick to become one of our all-time top Wonder Women, selling on average 30 products per month!
Mama Mia and her heart-warming smile whenever she cracks a joke.
On the opposite side of Flores, in Labuan Bajo, I often met with Ibu Bekti, also a Wonder Woman.
Like Mama Mia, she has a similar passion to serve the people around her - but adopts a different approach. An eager activist whose life’s work revolves around two integral issues - environment and women - Ibu Bekti has been supporting her community from a very young age. She facilitates a women's support group in her area, trains people in upcycling and waste management, and promotes organic farming.
Ibu Bekti takes a slow approach when introducing the technologies to people around her as she recognizes it takes time to build a full understanding of issues like clean energy. She believes that distributing these technologies is both good for the environment and for women in her community to make money and live healthier lives, so she is determined to share them with as many people as possible. “If I cannot explain the benefits of these technologies in one meeting, I will explain it again, and again, and again.” she gently expresses with a motherly tone.
Ibu Bekti as an eager activist explaining about her organic garden
This determination makes Ibu Bekti one of our top advocates when it comes to promoting women’s empowerment while at the same time explaining the environmental impact of the program. Ibu Bekti has represented Kopernik in various events, including the Bali Clean Energy Forum in 2016, and will soon attend the Zayed Future Energy Prize Gala in Abu Dhabi early next year.
On the opposite side of the province, in Kefamenanu, West Timor, I often conversed with Mama Detty.
A woman just as vocal and dedicated as Ibu Bekti - Mama Detty has represented Kopernik at the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Forum in New York in early 2017. But she only realized just how much her journey meant for her community after returning home. “Now, I can tell people that I went to America because of this program. I have become a much more credible advocate for the technologies and people are more open to these new ideas now,” said Mama Detty. For people in her community, she became a real-life example of how a woman can become influential and how she can inspire others to do the same.
Mama Detty started her Wonder Woman journey with the same drive as the other women, “As a mother of five who juggles many tasks, I could quickly see the advantages of using the technologies. Once I experienced it, I wanted other mothers and families to feel it as well.” In two years, Mama Detty has successfully distributed more than 330 technologies within her community, making her one of our strongest Wonder Women.
Mama Detty at the SEforALL Forum in New York.
Through these stories, I’ve learned something different about the impact of the program. I can see that the Wonder Women program provides a platform that these passionate women can use to fulfil their aspiration while concurrently improving the lives of people in their communities. I believe the program has done a great job of facilitating opportunities for these women to achieve their shared goals and strive for more. But it is the inspirational women themselves, like the three examples above, that I believe make a true success of this program.
In the coming years, the Wonder Women program will expand to new areas in Indonesia where energy access is still lacking. The lessons learned from the experiences of hundreds of Wonder Women after three years of running the program will be applied in the next phase of the program.