Grassroots practices towards an inclusive city: female-driven change in informal settlements in Indonesia


This presentation examines the positive and fast change created by Kalijawi, a community-based organisation formed by women who live in informal settlements in Yogyakarta, Indonesia since its creation in 2012. These women (and their families) are ‘deprived’ (Marcuse, 2009) and marginalised citizens who live in urban areas prone to floods that lack basic services and secure land tenure. Kalijawi has successfully developed advocacy strategies to become more visible in the discussion on the city they want to live in and practices to influence change through effective collaborative and participatory work. Being a female group, they challenge the male-dominated Indonesian governance structure. Their work contributes to a more inclusive city (SDG11) and to localise the New Urban Agenda emphasising the need to consider a continuum of land rights and the importance of creating local knowledge through community profiles, community mapping and poverty assessments. However, their bottom-up approach requires support and collaboration from the government, which is a challenging process of forging mutual understandings. Kalijawi is a new urban actor, whose practices navigate a difficult interaction between ‘invited’ and ‘invented spaces of action’ (Miraftab, 2017) contributing to ‘insurgent planning’ (Holston, 1998; Miraftab, 2009; Friedmann, 2011).


Sonia Roitman is an urban sociologist and planner.  She joined the University of Queensland in 2013. She teaches courses on development planning in cities of the Global South, including a fieldtrip course in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Her main research interests are urban inequalities and their manifestations in cities; collective action and decision-making mechanisms of poor and marginalised groups; gated communities, segregation and planning instruments. Her current research locations are Indonesia and Uganda. She has lived and worked in Australia, Argentina, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Uganda. She sits on the board of RC21 (Research Committee on the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development), International Sociological Association since 2014 and she is the joint-coordinator of the bi-annual RC21 Summer School. For more information visit