Seminar of Women’s Political Representation: Gender Equality and Equity Law, January 16, 2014
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Event / Seminar
Women Research Institute (WRI) believes that the Gender Equality and Equity Bill is an important policy to be fought for. In support of this government’s initiative, WRI conducted a policy research to identify issues and present policy recommendations for the legalisation process of the bill. The research was completed by the end of 2013 and resulted in a book, a Policy Paper, and a Policy Brief. Following this, WRI held a Public Seminar as a means of disseminating the outcomes of the research and WRI’s recommendations for the Gender Equality and Equity Bill.
The seminar was held at the Grand Kemang Hotel, South Jakarta, under the theme of “Women’s Political Representation: Gender Equality and Equity Bill”. People’s great enthusiasm for this seminar was proved by the amount of participants that reached 144 people from various backgrounds, such as the government, the Indonesian People’s Representative Council, political parties, universities or university studies centres, non-governmental organisations, funding agencies/embassies, and the media.
Acting as a moderator of the seminar was Debra H. Yatim, while the five speakers were Edriana Noerdin (WRI’s Director of Research), Sumarjati Arjoso (Member of Commission VIII DPR-RI from the Gerindra Fraction, and Chairman of BAKN DPR-RI), Soemintarsih Muntoro (Member of Commission VIII DPR-RI from the Hanura Fraction), Ratna Batara Munti (Executive Director of a legal aid institute, APIK and Coordinator of JKP3), and Chusnul Mar’iyah (Lecturer of the Social and Political Science Faculty of UI and Director President of CEPP).
As the first speaker, Edriana Noerdin presented the findings of WRI’s research on women’s political representation and its relation to the Gender Equality and Equity Bill. Several facts from WRI’s survey results on the work performance of DPR-RI’s members, among others, were also presented. A number of 45% respondents stated that they feel unrepresented while 23% felt represented. Meanwhile, 67% respondents felt that dialogues between DPR-RI members and their constituents never take place.
In relation to the Gender Equality and Equity Bill, 67% respondents did not know nor understand this policy. However, people’s awareness on the importance of the same opportunity for men and women in politics is quite high. A number of 38% female respondents and 37% male respondents agree on an equal opportunity for men and women in politics, 6% female respondents and 4% male respondents strongly agree, while 4% female respondents and 6% male respondents disagree on it.
In response to this issue, Sumarjati Arjoso stated several obstacles in achieving gender equality and equity in politics. Among others are the ordinal number which influences the votes, the quality and integrity of a quality legislative candidate, and education for voters on the importance of gender perspective and women’s roles in decision-making.
Meanwhile, according to Soemintarsih Muntoro and Ratna Batara Munti, the work performance of the People’s Representative Council, particularly female members, needs to be enhanced, especially in fighting for women’s interests. Soemintarsih believes that that female members of the People’s Representative Council have an influence on the allocation of gender-responsive budget for every sector. Another barrier that Soemintarsih stated in relation to the bill is social and cultural clashes regarding religious arguments. Thus, transparency, discussion, and joint monitoring with members of KPP-RI and women organizations, such as JKP3, are needed.
As the last speaker, Chusnul Mar’iyah gave several inputs on the process of the bill, which seemed to have reached an impasse. She stated that advocacy for this policy should be carried out though critical and precise counter-arguments against existing gender discrimination, for instance relating religious values. Dialogues and direct approaches to political parties are also needed to offer work plans that fight for gender issues, in order for the people to know which party is truly committed to gender issues.
The seminar was closed with a Q&A session, as well as responses from the participants to the speakers. A number of participants did not only ask but also offered their opinions to the speakers according to the situation that they face in society. In this seminar, WRI also presented WRI’s publications, which included a Policy Paper and a Policy Brief, to the participants of the seminar.