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Strategies to Enhance the Political Participation of Women in Indonesia

Posted: 2003-06-24

On 26 June 2003, International IDEA and the Centre for Electoral Reform (CERTRO) co-sponsored a conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, entitled ‘Enhancing Women’s Political Participation in Indonesia’. The conference built on past experience and extensive gender work conducted by IDEA, focussing primarily on women in parliament and the call for a quota on the number of female representatives of political parties. The importance of both of these issues became apparent during the recent process of revising electoral and political party’ laws in Indonesia.

The conference aimed to identify and develop the strategies of political parties to improve opportunities for women to participate actively in politics at all internal levels and in all geographic areas. It also assessed the role of civil society groups, academics and the media in promoting women to powerful political positions.

Themes covered by the conference included:

  • the strategies of political parties to enhance the political participation of women through internal organizational and structural processes;
  • civil society and academic support for women as part of electoral, financial and empowerment efforts; and
  • the role of media as an advocacy and pressure group. One hundred and fifty people, representing parliament, political parties, civil society groups, academia and the media, attended the conference.

Key Indonesian speakers included Slamet Effendi Yusuf, Chairman of the Golongan Karya Party (GOLKAR), Roy B. B. Janis, Faction Chairman of the Democratic Party of Struggle of Indonesia (PDI-P), A.S. Hikam, Deputy Chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), Lukman Hakim Sjaifuddin, Secretary to the Party Head Council, United Development Party (PPP), Abdilah Toha, Deputy Chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), Amuzamil Yusuf, Chairman of the Justice Party (PK), Lely Zailani, Chairman of the Hapsari Foundation, Zohra Andi Baso, Indonesian Women’s Coalition (KPI), Ani Soetjipto, Program Coordinator on Women and Election, CERTRO, and Mardiana Estilistiati, Deputy of the Non-News Desk, KOMPAS.

Participants showed great interest in gender issues at the national and regional levels. An area of focus was the call for a 30% quota on the number of female representatives of individual political parties. Andrew Ellis, the conference’s keynote speaker, noted that the demand of women’s movements for such a quota had put gender issues firmly on the political agenda. The adoption of a recommendation that the new general election law includes such a quota was seen as a great achievement. All of Indonesia’s main political parties (with one exception) were represented in the panel discussion and three out of five were ready to implement the quota.

The conference resulted in action plans for each of the groups represented: political party members, civil society activists, media representatives and parliamentarians. These plans serve as short-term proposals (until the May 2004 election), as well as long-term guidelines (beyond the 2004 poll). The action plans not only create a structure for the work of local organizations in the coming year, but they also flag issues that the international community should support in future.

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