Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Education
    Gender Equity

    Secured livelihoods for women and youth in Indonesia and Malaysia

    Project Number: 256.1004

    In the rural areas of Indonesia and Malaysia, the local population has so far lived largely from agricultural self-sufficiency. Mission 21 supports particularly vulnerable village communities and groups with a broad range of training programs to develop new sources of income, and provides graduates with assistance in implementing their own projects in practice. At the same time, for many children and young people in rural areas, a good quality education cannot be taken for granted. For secondary schools and vocational training, they have to move to district or provincial capitals. For many families, the costs are prohibitive. In some areas, girls are also married off as minors, do not go on to school or become victims of exploitative working conditions, sometimes abroad in the course of labor migration. For this reason, Mission 21 supports young women from poor backgrounds and remote regions in particular with educational scholarships through this project.

    Background information

    A large part of the population in Indonesia and Malaysia suffers from poverty and high unemployment. According to the World Bank, around 43 percent of Indonesia's population has less than US$ a day to live on. About 20 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 24 and one-third of young women do not have jobs or go to school. Although attendance at primary and secondary school is compulsory, only half of children from low-income families are enrolled in secondary schools. Due to socioeconomic and geographic factors, many families cannot afford to educate their children. In addition, remote rural areas, including Mission 21 project areas in Sabah, Kalimantan, Papua and Timor have limited educational structures compared to urban and semi-urban areas.

    Overall, the differences between rich and poor and between urban and rural areas are glaring, as rural villages are often neglected in government development programs. In the predominantly rural regions of the islands of Borneo and Papua, the indigenous ethnic groups live mainly from subsistence agriculture and forestry. However, this is increasingly threatened by deforestation, erosion and the spread of monocultures, especially palm oil plantations. Pollution from coal, ore, and gold mining also creates massive health hazards. In East Kalimantan, major demographic changes are expected due to the planned construction of a new capital city. Immigration from other parts of Indonesia has led to ethnic conflicts in the past and will continue to be a major challenge in the country in the future. Due to a lack of economic prospects, Timor has become a hotspot for the recruitment of migrant workers. As a result, many young people are tempted to leave the region, often ending up in exploitative employment due to illegal practices.

    In addition, traditional cultural norms and poverty in Indonesia and Sabah still lead to the marriage of underage girls and structural disadvantage of women in society. Investing in women's personal, intellectual, and economic empowerment is central to gender equality in society, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth. As mothers, heads of households, and bearers of neighborhoods and social networks, they are particularly important in bringing about social change. In Mission 21's partner churches and organizations, women are very involved in volunteer work. The empowerment of girls and women is showing visible success, including in filling leadership positions in Mission 21's partner organizations.

    Project goals

    Mission 21's partner organizations work with the target population to develop strategies that help improve living conditions in the respective project region.

    • Access to good education and vocational training, to acquire knowledge, skills and self-confidence
    • Promotion of nature conservation and sustainable agriculture
    • Promoting income-generating activities and access to markets
    • Strengthening the equal participation of women in society
    • Promotion of local languages and cultures to strengthen the self-confidence of indigenous communities
    • Promotion of physical and mental health care
    • Training and support for community organizers to promote development in remote regions.

    Target group

    Marginalized and particularly vulnerable young people, especially young women from remote areas; families lacking cultivable land, without sources of income, and entire villages at risk from external threats. Once a certain level of self-reliance and independence is achieved among the target groups, project activities can be shifted to other locations and groups. This strategy reduces the risk of potential friction within communities. At the same time, it contributes to a gradual expansion of project activities to include more beneficiaries.


    According to the needs and potentials of the target groups, our partner organizations carry out activities in one or more thematic fields in their respective contexts:


    • Scholarships for formal education programs
    • Vocational training courses for individuals and groups
    • Training program for community organizers and leaders
    • Establishment of community learning centers for children and adults
    • Raising awareness among women, training on self-confidence and teamwork
    • Operation of dormitories for students
    • Awareness campaigns to promote preventive health care.

    Food Sovereignty

    • Awareness-raising measures for the conservation of ecosystems
    • Use of self-produced organic fertilizer to improve soil quality and biological pest control.
    • Production and use of local seeds
    • Mixed crops and mixed cultivation, diversified crop rotation
    • Agroforestry
    • Preservation of knowledge about traditional foods and remedies from the forest
    • Promotion of the balance between crop production and animal husbandry
    • Promotion of urban gardening/farming.
    • Installation of clean water and good sanitary facilities
    • Strengthening capacities for adaptation to climate change
    • Seminars for producers, traders and consumers to know their rights in the control of mechanisms and regulations in food production and distribution.

    Income promotion

    • Establishment and maintenance of training centers
    • Food processing and preservation courses
    • Retention of traditional craft techniques
    • Training of new craft techniques
    • Courses for the development of products
    • Courses on product packaging, branding and trading
    • Price control and quality control by the producers
    • Access to markets (local, regional)
    • Online marketing courses
    • Construction of infrastructures according to the techniques and practical exercises
    • Microcredit financing / revolving loan fund
    • Organization of production communities
    • Promotion of entrepreneurship

    Project progress

    In 2022, 96 children received instruction at the Community Learning Centers, 110 young people received scholarships to attend secondary school and 113 young women and men studied at universities with the help of a scholarship (in total, half girls and half boys). 9 young people completed vocational training with the help of a scholarship, and 30 people completed craft training and internships. In addition, a total of 46 people in Papua who were in the final stages of their studies or in an internship received temporary financial support in line with their needs. Currently, more than 700 women and100 men are organized in production and marketing groups in the five projects on Borneo. Of these, 250 women in Banjarmasin and the surrounding area work as weavers of rattan products, in the textile industry and the culinary sector. On average, they earn considerably more than the government-imposed minimum wage for this region. Mission 21 supports the project financially and with its know-how. Ueli Knecht, a long-time Mission 21 employee, is involved in the program as a consultant and accompanies local project managers. As a result of this cooperation, an independent cooperative of producers was founded in Banjarmasin at the end of 2019, which has also been recognized by the government and today already has around a hundred members.

    As environmental disasters are on the rise due to climate change and the destructive exploitation of natural resources, a new platform for "Disaster Risk Reduction" has been introduced at regional level for the 2022-2025 program phase. The aim is to improve adaptive and resilience capacity through prevention measures, thereby strengthening project activities for secure livelihoods. Each partner organization is building an internal team for disaster risk reduction. Efforts at the level of the overall organizations are taken up concretely with the target groups of the Secured Livelihoods project in their living environment and put into practice.

    Indonesia and Malaysia

    • 26 million Indonesians live on less than 80 rappen per day
    • 25.3% of the population in Sabah lives below the poverty line
    • 1.2 million women in Indonesia were minors when they married


    Project budget 2024

    CHF 317,400


    Jacqueline Brunner

    Responsible church partnerships;
    Responsible legacies and bequests

    Tel. 061 260 23 37
    ► E-mail

    Mathias Waldmeyer

    Team leader and program manager Asia
    Tel: +41 (0)61 260 22 63
    ► E-mail

    Hope thanks to your support

    Mission 21
    Protestant Mission Basel

    PO Box 270
    Missionsstrasse 21
    4009 Basel, Switzerland
    Tel.: +41 (0)61 260 21 20

    Donation account Switzerland:
    IBAN: CH58 0900 0000 4072 6233 2
    Tax exemption number:

    Donation account Germany:
    Savings Bank Lörrach-Rheinfelden
    Swift BIC: SKLODE66
    BLZ: 683 500 48
    IBAN: DE39 6835 0048 0001 0323 33
    Account No. : 1032333

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