Empowering Putat Jaya community youth through the creative industries

"The cultural and creative industries…are among the most powerful sources for new development pathways that encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth and development" (United Nations Report on Creative Economy).

In celebration of Women's History Month, we highlight how cultural and creative industries can promote hope and power the urban transformation processes in Putat Jaya through youth's, including girls, engagement.

Through the Dolly Kita Colabs programme, the Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP), in collaboration with the Seventeen August 1945 University Surabaya, has hosted a range of workshops for young people, including young women and children, to encourage creative expression and equip them with valuable skills. The workshop series, which covers creative writing, photography, film and videography, and design illustration, has been running from November 2021 until March 2022. The objective of these workshops is to bring Dolly to life; leaving behind its past as ex-localisation and highlighting  the possibility of positive change within a community with a difficult past to look ahead with a new future.

Delya Oktovie Apsari, a recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarship from Bournemouth University in England, was leading and mentoring the seven-day creative writing workshop. Empowering young women and children through writing will ensure a well-educated generation that will help set a path for gender equality and increase the literacy rate that leads to an overall productive economy while also promoting the voice and perspectives of women and girls. Highlighting social issues for empowerment through writing can also change society's perception. In total, there were 20 children and youths who participated in the creative writing workshop; 70% of participants were girls.

Delya Oktovie Apsari invited young women and  children for creative writing and practice reporting in Putat Jaya (GFCP)

The workshop's output shed light on girls' perspectives on Putat Jaya, with honest, exceptional, and imaginative writings. Some writing examples included Dyah's short story about three friends who managed to travel back in time to answer the lingering questions of what was the purpose of the ceramic-made partition in a localisation guests house that would only cover half of a human's body; or Viona, who put herself as the door and wall of localisation guests house. These young women and children found their unique voices and felt confident living authentically through writing.  

In addition to creative writing, the workshop participants were taught reportage practices. They practised in the field and interviewed the Putat Jaya community, including local hero Lilik Sulistiowati, also known as Mami Vera. Vera provides a neighbourhood shelter called 'Abdi Asih' for women and children with HIV and survivors of human trafficking. By involving the local community, the workshop also helped to change the perception of the Dolly inhabitants on their own neighbourhood and change the perception that people in Surabaya have of Dolly.

Creative writing workshop with reportage practices by interviewing Mami Vera to get insights from local community perspectives (GFCP)

The skills gained by workshop participants will help the children and the community to have confidence in telling their own stories. The output of the workshop will be exhibited to the public in early 2022.


Mott MacDonald (MM)


Republic of Indonesia




Social Inclusion

Strategy & Planning


Monique Suksmaningsih

Project Manager, Global Future Cities South East Asia, Surabaya Urban Transformation, Indonesia

Shaendy Widyaswara

Assistant Project Manager, Global Future Cities South East Asia, Surabaya Urban Transformation, Indonesia