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Strengthening Political Participation of Women in Indonesia: Challenges and Opportunities

By: Ade Indriani Zuchri, General Secretary of Indonesia Green Union

The political participation of women has become a popular topic in Indonesia as opportunities increase for them. Before the reformation won in 1999, Soeharto regime had discriminated the political ability of women by closing the political participation space for them. Also, the regime imposed women to become a symbol in the political process and created a justification from social and culture perspective in which made women to be aloof from politic which was deemed as an arena for men. These conditions created a low political participation of Indonesia women at that time.

Patriarchy ideology is developed as righteousness in which creating a new belief adopted and inherited by Indonesian family. There is an assumption that women only could do in the private sector; such become a wife, doing domestic works. This is deemed to be a special thing to do as a woman instead of working in public sector. Moreover, if women decide to work in public sector, they only could work in their specialization jobs; such as secretary, teacher, fashion designer, etc. Therefore, as time goes by, society acknowledges that women should be placed in private sector. This false understanding has created an understanding that men should lead therefore men are more competent in political area. Politic is deemed as a tough arena for women.

Women have abandoned political space in disadvantaged regions, so it has become a male dominated space. It should become a concern since there will be a tendency to be defensive to neglect women as a part in that space. Unfortunately, women sometimes do not want to be out of their comfort zone. As a consequence, they tend not to be involved in the political space. It was also supported by the political budget, which should be spent by political candidates. Women who have lack of funding source will be out of the arena. It has contributed to the lower number of women representatives in parliamentary.

This condition is an unfinished fact that should be coped immediately. Not only by the number of women representatives, but also by the quality of women representatives. Women need to take over the power access to several problems, such as domestic violence towards women, child and human trafficking, domestic workers, migrant workers, indigenous women group, etc. Women have ability to empathy towards other women’s problems. Although, there are also other politicians who understand about women rights. However,women representatives are suitable to fight for women’s needs.

Unfortunately, political situation in Indonesia has not fully taken aside towards women to be active in political participation. Women have a lot of limited access by culture, social, and religion. It has made women’s struggle in political arena still a long way to go. By realizing this, Indonesia Green Union comprehends about this condition and tries to utilize it as a means to fight for women to raise their awareness. Furthermore, Indonesia Green Union has initiated to work with women group in district/town level and province level by conducting a leadership education for women as well as promoting them to become local leaders. Also, Indonesia Green Union has supported more women figures to be involved in legislative election. Indonesia Green Union has conducted a green political school recently to educate more Indonesia Green Union’s members in village/district/town/province level, so they will be ready to follow legislative election in 2019.

Supporting women’s political participation is not an easy thing to do. There are still more obstacles that hamper women to be involved in the decision-making, for instance, sectorial and group interests. For women who are not educated in organization or political party, politic is a fierce arena for women to become a commodity and used by several interests. Therefore, it is a common thing to hear a women politician to be trapped by other politicians to cover their corrupt manner.

Indonesia Green Union believes women have same responsibility and role within political life. They have opportunity and ability to change the condition to be better, but the opportunity indeed should be taken over. There will be more obstacles for women to be involved in politic. One of the solutions is by educating them within the organization that will make them understand theories in politics. Therefore, they will be ready and not influenced by other political interests.

This struggle is not an easy thing to do, there will be a lot of obstacles to create women leaders in all level to fight for justice and equality. Indonesia Green Union must continue this work in order to make a change. We believe we understand what we fight for.

 

Happy International Women’s Day.

Greetings from Indonesia Women.

Indonesia, 25 February 2016

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