Indonesian union women leaders claim their own agency in navigating the triple work burden in productive, reproductive, and organisational spheres. This research raises questions about women’s agency and militancy to enable them to become leaders and perform domestic responsibilities. A feminist standpoint through women’s narratives is applied to develop a deeper understanding on women’s experiences. Besides interviewing four union women leaders in Indonesia, data was also garnered from union members and participant observation. One of the most crucial findings is women’s continuous commitment and effort in bargaining towards the household, workplace, and union. I approached two domains of the women’s experiences in personal relationship a transgressive way. First, women challenged the notion of care work as the given roles expected in a gendered society, and they ensured that the burdens are equally distributed. Second, women bargained their sexual choice as their expression of individual agency. The result of this study indicates that women exercised their bargaining power in industrial relations, in order to counteract the sexual politics of the union by applying two strategies: First, women used collective bargaining as their arena to advance the gender equality agenda. Second, women enhanced the alliance building across collectives and organisations. In doing so, they have directed social norms to enable them to lead the union. This study concludes that women articulated their agency by playing a role as “solid unionists” to remain critical towards the union, create alliances and ensure collective bargaining representing workers interests, where the moderation of union has weakened union power.

Additional Metadata
Keywords women workers, women leadership, women leaders, trade union, agency, resistance, power, intrahousehold bargaining, triple work burden, care work, gender hierarchy, women’s narratives, feminist standpoint, collective bargaining, gender discrimination, sexual politics, union politics, union power, Indonesia
Thesis Advisor Pegler, Lee
Persistent URL
Series Social Policy for Development (SPD)
Andi Cipta Asmawaty, Andy. (2019, December 20). Challenging gender hierarchy - navigating the triple work burden: A reflection from the life stories of four union women leaders in Indonesia. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from