Drive Change

Gemawan News – The establishment of a post reformation institution, ideally, had to have purposes and functions. Firstly, the organization which was able to continue the agenda of reformation. Secondly, to accommodate the stream of the revolutionary spirit of their activists. Thirdly, how the organizations became a fighting tool. “After the 1998 Reformation, the fundamental question was, what step will the activists do next at that time?” said Hermawansyah.

Muhammad Isa, Hermawansyah, and Uray Endang Kusumajaya, who at that time were companion in arms, throughout 1997-1999, often held a discussion to build strategies and tried to find bigger opportunities.

From the series and process of unifying the post-reform struggle movement, it was agreed that it required a fighting tool to continue the ideals of the nation’s founders and the reform. Several options for name appeared at that time, until finally the name of Non-Governmental and Independent Community Development Organization was found.

“Gemawan, the right name” said Uray Endang Kusumajaya, in 1999 at that time the right name was found in the Indonesian Dictionary.

In April 1999, Gemawan was established as a response to a series of events of facing changes. “The process of reuniting the post-reform struggle movement took a long time. Gemawan was a platform for the fight and acceleration of change, from here we started.” Isa stated.

Gemawan was born as a reflection of the post-reform student movement, which did not find any motion after the fall of the New Order. Therefore, there had to be a joint platform to make movements. Especially for former activists, Gemawan became an alternative movement, which can contribute to create a fairer government order. Gemawan was a place of struggle to channel idealism on the ideologic process at the same level so that collective dreams were built in Gemawan.

There are three uniqueness in Gemawan. Firstly, in the context of the birth of the organization. Secondly, the people who are involved in the organization. Thirdly, the philosophy of the movement. The birth of Gemawan was in line with the spirit of change in the reform era. “This is the spirit and idealism that must be the guidance for Gemawan activists,” Muhammad Isa said.

In 2000, Laili Khairnur came out as a tough manager. Becoming a driving force in the management arrangements, she was capable and successful so that Gemawan became better like today. As a fighting organization, the cadres of Gemawan must work fully for the organization. In Gemawan cadres, there must be faith that the founders of Gemawan will provide opportunities for the next generation. The cadres in Gemawan understand this pattern. “We let our friends choose according to their interests,” said Laili Khainur, Director of Gemawan.

In the 1999 to 2005 phase, Gemawan focused the attention on the anti-corruption movement, policy advocacy, community empowerment, village autonomy, and empowerment of women’s groups and even humanitarian assistance. In the phase of 2005 to present, furthermore, Gemawan has been also strengthening local communities to fight to defend their rights on land and forests due to the rapid development of forest and land-based extractive industries. Gemawan also recuruits cadres and initiates various community groups at the grassroots level and encourages local CSOs to promote participatory development and transparency. Gemawan is also intensively involved in international campaigns to protect the land of local community, promote fair and sustainable natural resource management and encourage policy changes towards extractive industry investment.


Gemawan: An organization of Cadres, Advocacy, and Empowerment

Gemawan is a cloud consisting of water and water drops. The event in early April 1999, marked the birth of an empowerment movement and a fighting platform, which was carried out by student activists after the 1998 reformation. From small discussions to an agreement of the establishment of empowerment organization with a spirit of change, self-reliance and independence. The discussion at that time was based on the philosophy of the Indonesian National Student Movement, the values ​​and spirit of Nationalism. There were three things that were encouraged. Tri Sakti. They were political sovereignty, economic independence, and cultural character.

Gemawan is a movement towards self-help or independent society. The philosophy is very ideal. The value is high. It will never be finished. Because building a community that can stand on their own capability and initiative is a continued process. Especially in various economic contexts, control of natural resources, politics, education, health and other social welfare issues. That philosophy will never be completed in any context. This is in line with the concept of the nation’s founders. In the context of building an independent community welfare, the issue until whenever is still up to date. This is the uniqueness of Gemawan.

As an independent community movement, Gemawan has to build a network. It cannot be done individually. The philosophy of the movement already implies that this institution has to build a network, to cooperate with other parties. That is a movement philosophy that is far ahead, that everything cannot be done alone. It has to involve many parties, involve cooperation between institutions at various levels and issues they have.

As a professional organization, twenty years of Gemawan were guided through Strategic Planning conducted in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 which resulted in the aims and objectives of the organization formulated in the Values, Vision and Missions of Gemawan.

Until today, Gemawan has worked intensively in 12 regencies/cities in West Kalimantan on various issues of change that include people’s economic sovereignty and independence, local cultural personality, good governance, gender justice, and environmental justice based on community-based natural resource management.


“Toward Self-Help and Independent Society” Tough Women, Strong People, Empowered Villages


(Compiler MZ, compiled from various sources & Drafting of 2015 Gemawan History Book)

Gemawan, 20 Years Fighting to Drive Change
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