Arekalita lives in Tambun Selatan, a small town on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, with her husband R.I. Sultan and 19-year-old son Arief. Each morning, Arekalita and her husband make the hour-long trek on their shared motorbike to PT Tainan Enterprises, a garment manufacturer in northeast Jakarta, where Arekalita has worked for 18 years. In addition to her duties as a finishing operator in the packing division at PT Tainan, Arekalita also serves as a peer educator for the factory’s workplace women’s health program – the HERproject.
Approximately 90 percent of the employees at Arekalita’s factory are women, causing access to reproductive health information and services to be in high demand. As a peer educator, Arekalita often receives questions about reproductive health, especially when they gather employees during lunch breaks and share knowledge on health.
Arekalita explains that the information she has learned through the HERproject has helped her debunk misinformation about reproductive health that sometimes circulates among her coworkers, saying, “there are actually many misunderstandings and lack of knowledge among my friends, especially with regards to contraceptive methods. Most of them only know you can take [three-month contraceptive] injections or pills, that’s it. They don’t know that you can choose out of many varieties of family planning methods that may be more suitable to them.”
In addition to providing reproductive health information, the factory also provides contraceptive commodities at the on-site clinic. Arekalita explains how based on her experience at PT Tainan, “there are many benefits of family planning because we have so many female workers and family planning has helped space births, which is very beneficial and it has helped improve the lives of the women workers as well.”
Beyond the obvious health benefits of the reproductive health information and services provided by the clinic, Arekalita notes the contributions of family planning to the economic empowerment of her female coworkers and their ability to educate their children.
Arekalita’s emphasis on the importance of family planning extends beyond advice to her coworkers and into her own life. She and her husband used three-month injection contraceptive injections to plan their family. Her husband, R.I. Sultan says “I support my wife because I think it is very important to plan for the family …. especially with regards to family economy, because life is hard nowadays. If we do not plan it well, we may not be able to support our family well. With proper family planning we can help our children to thrive. That is why I support the use of family planning.”
Arekalita stresses how her job at PT Tainan and her ability to plan her family has enabled her to build a different life than the one she experienced growing up. “My life is very different. The life of my mom was a life in the past, a life of hardship. She was only a farmer and she had six children. It is hard to provide for six children. It was difficult to send six children to school, but praise the Lord after my parents sent me to school, after I graduated high school, I could get a job and help my parents,” she shares proudly.
Now, Arekalita’s son Arief is attending Universitas Bhayangkara. Her hard work and dedication to her family does not go unnoticed by her son Arief, who shared that what he admired most about his mother is that "she is such a hard worker. She works really hard to put me through school and to put me through college. She is my pride.”
Always the educator and advocate, Arekalita closes with a call to action for the women of Indonesia, saying with a smile, “I would like to suggest and invite every woman out there [to] realize that family planning is very important to our families … I would like to invite women to participate in family planning!”