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Increasing Access to Justice for Women, the Poor, and Those Living in Remote Areas: An Indonesian Case Study

By: Leisha Lister, Cate Sumner, Matthew Zurstrassen

Recent reforms in the religious courts of Indonesia have resulted in a 14-fold increase in the number of poor clients able to access the courts through court fee waivers and a fourfold increase in the number able to access circuit courts in remote areas. These increases are significant because the ability of the poor, particularly women and their dependents, to utilize the religious courts is a crucial step in opening up their access to broader public services and government poverty-alleviation programs.

This briefing note outlines the reform process that produced these notable results, a process that began with targeted grassroots empowerment through engagement with PEKKA, an Indonesian civil society organization supporting womenheaded households. It will also describe a series of recent access-to-justice policy developments initiated by Indonesian government institutions and a summary of some key results, highlighting how small-scale pilots and research can provide empirical data on which national agencies can draw to strengthen national policy development and planning processes.