Published: 01/06/2004

Law No.22/1999 on local government and Law No.25/1999 on the balancing of finance between local government and the national government give greater power and responsibilities for the government at district and city level. The enactment of these two laws on decentralization leads to the formulation of local regulations (Perda) in all regions in Indonesia.

For instance, in Samarinda, since the implementation of decentralization law, there have been 25 local government regulations (Perda) while previously there were only 23 Perda (2000), 15 Perda (1999), 19 Perda (1998), 23 Perda (1997), and 15 Perda (1996). This can be seen as something positive as a response to restructure the centralized relation to be decentralized relation in the era of decentralization. The local government has the full rights to make a decision on its own political policy and budget allocation. However, we need to question whether the distribution of power also carries the understanding of equality perspective. There is a concern that the decentralization for local authority, when not supported by the awareness to support the poor group and treat men and women equally, can reinforce patriarchy at the local level. This is what referred to as an awareness to do gender mainstreaming.


 The implementation of gender mainstreaming in the development during the era of decentralization can result in a big impact to support the success of the development. How far gender mainstreaming and women empowerment is implemented in the local development can be seen in the local government budget. The budget is a reflection of the values upheld by a country and is also the reflection of the development. The budget allocation communicates what the government’s priority scale is. From the budget, we can also see how much attention the government gives to improve the welfare of the poor or other marginalized groups’ welfare including women’s welfare.

Even when a budget policy seems to be gender neutral, the impacts of the policy are not. For instance, public expenditure allocation can give different impacts for men and women because they are placed differently in their economic roles.

Up to this far, the budgeting system in Indonesia is still considered gender neutral (even gender blind). Its distribution and budget allocation determination is not based on the consideration of the needs based on equality perspective. The assumption that when the budget is allocated for the public and officials, it will mean that it includes both men and women is often made as a justification for the gender blind budget. It is often forgotten that when the allocated budget is given to all, it does not necessarily mean that it is utilized equally and gives the same good impacts for everybody. The impacts received by women and men are different. The fact that women are culturally and historically left behind also makes their position even worse, and this also results in a greater gap.

Reducing the gap in the attempt to realize social justice is the main reason behind the importance of a gender budget. Also, a budget which incorporates equality perspective is needed to enhance people’s participation in democracy and development while it also reduces poverty at the same time. In principle, this budget is about the government’s commitment which is translated into budget policy. The final objective of this budget is to have a budget which assists not only men but also women especially poor women who receive less benefits of the current budget allocation.

This gender budget has been developed in several countries, for example:
In Australia, a strong commitment is spread in all departments related to relevant programs and expenditure. Each institution includes in its expenditure and program: the specific expenditure target for women and girls, the allocation of funding to realize gender equality, and the identification of the users of the Law and those who have access to import market.

In South Africa, the analysis of gender budget is developed through highlighting funding allocation which reflects the situation for men, women, boys, and girls in each development sector, analyzing whether the budget allocation is in accordance with the government policy in several programs which are set according to the budget proportion, and observing whether the government has allocated budget and other resources according to the needs of the people instead of its own needs.

In Tanzania, Gender Budget Initiative is set out to achieve these following main objectives:

  1. To strengthen lobbying and advocacy skills for women and gender-oriented lobbying groups;
  2. To effectively conduct campaign to fight for gender rights and equality especially in the management structure of public resources;
  3. To examine the budgeting process and budget allocation in the option strategies of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education in 1997-1998 and the impacts of the budget for women and other groups of the disadvantaged communities.

In the Philippines, the foundation of the policy is set and then followed by the institutionalization of resources allocation to implement the program and project of Gender and Development (GAD) budget policy. After 6 years of GAD budget implementation, a research is conducted to know how far the effectiveness of the gender budget implementation in national and local level is, see the problems faced in the implementation of gender budget, and set the actions that have to be done to resolve the existing problems.

In Indonesia, Gender Budget has been developed ever since the establishment Gender Budget Advocacy Movement (GBA) in 2011 under the initiative of the Asia Foundation and 10 other local NGOs (KPI, CiBa, BIGS, PATTIRO, FITRA, LSPPA, Rifka Annisa, Yasanti, BSUI Aceh, and GPPBM). This movement conducts several activity programs at local and national level to encourage the government to formulate local gender budget. The gender budgeting activity programs conducted are:

KPI (Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia) holds Gender Budgeting advocacy by encouraging the People’s Consultative Assembly to allocate 30% of the APBN for education, 15% for health, and 5% for women empowerment (according to the Resolution of the People’s Consultative Assembly No.6/2000). At the local level, KPI conducts a joint study with the Local Government of Sumatera Barat especially the districts of Padang Pariaman and the municipality of Padang by analyzing the impacts of the implementation of APBD for men, women, and girls. Moreover, Limpapeh (a local women’s NGO in Solok also does a research on Solok’s local budget, specifically on funding allocation for education and health. The two organizations find out that the funding for education and health is still very low in the local budget (in Solok for example, education and health sectors claim for 6% of the total budget only).

Yasanti, Rifka Annisa, and LSPPA (Women’s NGOs in Yogyakarta) focus on activities like gender budget advocacy trainings in the areas set as the community basis, advocacy in local public health agency, education agency, and local parliament (DPRD) to advocate the formulation of development programs which utilize gender perspective.

Based on the results of the study conducted by the women’s NGOs, WRI finds that there have not been organizations (especially women’s organizations) which conduct activities related to gender budgeting in the new areas which cover several regions in Sumatera Barat and Yogyakarta. Also, the activities conducted by the NGOs are not sustainable and the results and findings of the activities have not been followed up.

These facts encourage WRI to contribute in the implementation of gender budget by conducting program activities in 5 regions which are:

  1. Java Region: Tasikmalaya and Kebumen
  2. Bali Region: Gianyar, Kupang, and Mataram
  3. Sumatera region: Aceh and Solok
  4. Kalimantan region: Pontianak
  5. Sulawesi region: Menado

The Initial Findings of WRI Regarding the Allocation of the Local Budget (APBD)

During the initial research, WRI carries out an analysis of the local government policy which has been isued in the 9 research areas after the implementation of decentralization. The research areas are:

  1. Sukabumi, Jawa Barat
  2. Tasikmalaya, Jawa Barat
  3. Solok, Sumatera Barat
  4. Mataram, NTB
  5. Samarinda, Kalimantan Timur
  6. Kupang, NTT
  7. Gianyar, Bali
  8. Banda Aceh, Sumatera Utara
  9. Kendari, Sulawesi Tenggara


From the initial findings, the 3 important issues related to local budget allocation and women are identified as:

Retribution to Increase Regional Income

In the context of decentralization, an increase in regional revenue is an important focus as the support of operational funding of the local government who does not receive subsidy from the government anymore. For regions with limited resources, an increase in regional revenue is forged from all economic sectors. As an instance is the levy on horse mating and fecal suction (Solok), animal slaughtering (Solok and Tasikmalaya), traders in the market, slaughtering of livestock, and rickshaw passengers (Tasikmalaya), and also salons, hotels, and restaurants (Sukabumi).

In reality, this levy brings direct impacts for women who manage daily household management as customers and small entrepreneurs. In Tasikmalaya, according to BPS Susenas 2001, restaurants, hotels, and salons are the workplaces mostly occupied by women. In Kupang, Nusa Tenggara Timur, the same case can be seen in the levy on out of school education whose students are mostly from poor families.

APBD Allocation for Women’s Empowerment

The increase in the legal products related to women’s empowerment in the nine regions is not followed by an increase in APBD allocation for women. As a matter of fact, in Gianyar, Bali, the APBD allocation for women is revised from 2,53% to 2,45% from the total APBD. The small percentage of budget allocation for women can also be seen in Mataram as a result of the Local Regulation No.15/2001. The budget allocation for women’s empowerment (which is still integrated with health sector and child and adolescent welfare) in 2001 budget claims for only 0,03% from the total APBD.

This small percentage might undergo a change since the local government of Mataram in its Mataram City Strategic Plan 2003-2007 places Crisis Center as an ‘actual development problem’ that has to be considered in the formulation of future development strategy. If the management of crisis center is implemented, it means that the local government’s attention to women’s problems is growing positively.

Moreover, it has to be noted down that even when there is a budget allocated for women’s empowerment through several programs in the local regulations, the programs are more domestic-sector oriented. For example, instead of focusing on women’s public participation, the programs focus on improving women’s skills to manage household.

Women’s Reproductive Health

In the context of decentralization, reproductive health is an important focus in the local regulations issued by the nine researched areas. On the one hand, this shows an increase of attention to women. In Gianyar, the aids for pap-smear test provided by a foreign NGO are distributed by the local government.

On the other hand, this also strengthens the stereotype about the roles of men and women in reproduction. In Sukabumi, Local Regulation No.14/2000 on Family Planning service is more directed towards women. By this, it means that the control and limitation of birth is made as the responsibility of women. This regulation focuses on the systematic attempt to control the reproductive rights and reproduction of women without further reviewing the reproductive health service and insurance.

Moreover, as can be seen in Mataram, the budget allocated for the implementation of programs on population, family planning, and social health focuses more on issues on administrative restructuring and maternal and infant mortality without paying attention to the quality of women’s reproductive health.

The initial findings give an illustration of how gender mainstreaming has not been considered as an urgent and significant issue. The allocation of gender budget has not been made an urgent commitment of the government as reflected in the absence of assurance for women’s welfare and health. It turns out that the funding allocation for substantial attempts to increase women’s political and public roles is used to meet women’s needs under the domestic category instead. The program intended to increase the local revenue (PAD) which has been implemented is proven to put much burden on women.

Women Workers

The finding in Mataram shows that the local government imposes tax on recruitment companies who recruits migrant women workers and tax on workplace security permits. Mataram itself is the source of migrant workers in Indonesia which contributes a quite significant income. However, the budget allocation or policy to protect migrant workers’ rights is still very limited.

As mentioned earlier, the roles of women in public sphere other than their roles as a mother and the caretaker of family and society is never acknowledged. The exclusion of women from decision-making process in the exploration of natural resources in Kutai Barat also reflects the loss of income sources for women, which then forces them to work as mining workers. One woman is even killed when defending her field from a fire.

Women are excluded from the decision-making process and placed in the implementation position instead of the decision-making position because they are associated with their stereotypical roles in domestic spheres. Women almost always occupy position in logistic affairs (mostly related to food).

The reality that women act as the breadwinners of the family is not popular; and thus, women’s rights to receive allowance and assistance that are received by men are not acknowledged. In Gianyar, a working female spouse does not have the rights to receive allowance and assistance when she is sick.

Education Issue

In Gianyar, we find Local Regulation No.3/2002 which gives a space for women to increase their understanding and knowledge on the concept of gender equality through education, training, and counseling. This is aimed at improving women’s resources and enabling them to occupy formal positions based on their intellectual ability. However, this intention expressed in the Local Regulation is accommodated differently in Gianyar’s Rensra 2002-2005.

In the Rensra, the improvement of understanding and knowledge on the concept of gender equality through education refers to women’s roles which are assumed to be in domestic spheres. Therefore, providing additional knowledge of managing household is thought as an attempt to improve women’s knowledge.

As a result, the education designed in the Rensra cannot accommodate the goals of the local regulation which is designed to improve the capacity of women in Gianyar to be able to occupy formal positions. The education needed is the one that can support women’s public roles.

Similar with Gianyar District, Strategic Plan (Renstra) of Banda Aceh City also translates the needs of women’s education into the needs which are based on their roles as the guardian of moral and religious values (Islam). As a result, the provided budget is allocated for religious books and tools for prayer.
It is obvious that women’s roles are still highly associated with their stereotypical roles closely linked with domestic spheres.

Gender Budget According to WRI

WRI with its gender budgeting programs is aimed at serving as an information basis which facilitates the movement of such programs. WRI views that in conducting advocacy, programs such as Gender Budget Advocacy movement needs a lot of information and data from various regions about the planning and implementation of local budget and its impacts to the society especially women.

As an institute which serves as an information basis for programs which are and will be conducting advocacy of local government budget in order to make it more gender-sensitive, WRI offers comprehensive and sustainable programs. Sustainable means that the programs are sustainable and linked to another program. As for comprehensive, it means that WRI aspires to join the attempt to address the problems emerged as the results of the implementation of a non gender-responsive budget through conducting capacity building for multi-stakeholders.

Together with the other organizations which conduct advocacy, WRI plans to perform policy advocacy programs, one of which is through proposing and facilitating the establishment of Budget Coalition and discussions on local government budget utilizing gender perspective. Through the comprehensive and sustainable attempt to improve multi-stakeholders’ capacity, it is expected that gender budget which will improve the life of the people, both men and women, can be realized promptly.

Considering that there have not been many women organizations or similar forums which are involved in the advocacy of gender budget, and the fact that there is no women organization which make research results and capacity building as the basis of gender budgeting programs advocacy, WRI aspires to be a woman group which concentrates on the two areas of research and capacity building.

WRI is going to conduct 3 main programs which are:

  1. Capacity building trainings for local governments in the 5 regions to give technical assistance on how to analyze APBD using gender perspective and formulate local gender budget.
  2. COS Monitoring Training in the 5 regions to monitor whether the local governments in the five regions have formulated gender budget. The monitoring activity is going to be in the form of Budget Analysis and the improvement of people’s participation in monitoring the implementation of APBD.
  3. Dissemination of Gender Budgeting through public dialog and campaign materials to disseminate the importance and urgency of gender budget implementation.

The objectives of the main programs are:

  1. To encourage the local governments in the 5 regions to promptly formulate gender budget.
  2. To bring all Gender Budget dissemination attempts in the 5 regions nationally to encourage the government to promptly formulate and implement gender budget in all regions.

Currently, South Africa and South America are the center of learning and examples of best practices for Gender Budgeting. Through all the attempts to realize local gender budget in Indonesia, it is expected that someday districts/cities in the 5 regions in Indonesia can be the center of learning, replication, and best practices for the Indonesian society in particular and also for the international community. ***