Published: 06/02/2014

Until today, there are only around 18 percent of women Parliamentarians across the world. Meanwhile, one of the important objectives of the 2015 Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) is the representation of women in parliaments. The target of women’s representation in parliaments becomes greatly urgent when women become the subjects with authority in policy making – not only to fulfill the target of MDGs but also other targets of development.

Women’s participation in politics and the public sphere is one of the pre-existing conditions for a true democracy (Anne-Marie Goetz and Shireen Hassim). Furthermore, if women perform as policy makers, it will give a valuable contribution to gender equality in the life of democracy. It is important to enhance women’s representation because women’s experiences and interests are different from men’s. Therefore, a change in the political structure is needed to accommodate such differences. The different biological and social constructions of women are two important reasons for the representation of women in the political sphere. Men, whose experiences and interests are different –or even contradictory– from women’s, cannot completely represent women’s interests. Therefore, it is important to combine the politics of presence and the politics of ideas (Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence). Women should both be present and exert influence so that the parliament could establish gender-responsive policies.

Apart from the support from women’s organization or civil society, female members of the Indonesian People’s Representative Council should also persistently fight for the quota of women’s representation. The representative function of the People’s Representative Council members, both individually and collectively, has a different scope and impact on the legislation process as well as the quality enhancement of the democratic life in Indonesia.

Gender equality can be observed from the chances that women have in advancing women’s interests and political expectations. Due to the very limited current number of women in parliaments, the capacity to voice women’s interests is also limited. This means that women, as signified by the quota policy, determine the fulfillment of women’s representation. With the decision to state the number of women in politics (parliament) as an indicator of the women’s empowerment aspect in the objectives of MDGs, the urgency to increase women’s political participation found its momentum.

Women’s low political participation as well as various policies that support democratization in general seems to have almost no impact on the realization of women’s rights. Therefore, a legal umbrella or a special policy on gender equity and equality is needed. The Indonesian People’s Representative Council took the initiative by suggesting that the Gender Equality and Equity Bill (RUU KKG) is included in the 2012 National Legislation Program. The parliament’s initiative to advance RUU KKG is one of the significant “investments” and breakthroughs for the policy reform in Indonesia. A policy on gender equality is greatly needed to ensure that Indonesian women can fight for women’s interests and needs.

The Gender Equality and Equity Bill is expected to push for establishing an understanding on gender equality from the family, government, to the society. RUU KKG will also reinforce the system and mechanism of gender equality at all governmental bodies through the acceleration of gender mainstreaming strategies, including the formulating and implementing of gender-responsive budget. In addition, institutions and society will refer to RUU KKG in achieving gender equality and equity.