Reports 2019

Seminar “Gender and Politics in Indonesia: An Analysis of the 2019 General…”

IGS Seminar “Gender and Politics in Indonesia: An Analysis of the 2019 General Election”

On January 30th, we welcomed Dr. Ani Widyani Soetjipto from the University of Indonesia and held presentations on the topic of “Gender and Politics in Indonesia: An Analysis of the 2019 General Election.” Dr. Oki Naoko from the Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University, joined as a discussant and Dr. Hirano Keiko from the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University, as a moderator.

Dr. Ani Widyani Soetjipto presented an analysis of changes in gender and politics in Indonesia after the 2019 general election. She emphasized the importance of affirmative policy for women in encouraging political parties to nominate more than 30% women candidates. However, compared with past elections, the nomination of women candidates has considerably narrowed and some of those nominated come from the same background, such as political dynasties, business, or are public figures. Dr. Soetjipto pointed out that the implementation of affirmative policy in Indonesia is still defined by the number of women candidates and is not related to their qualification as women representatives.

As Dr. Soetjipto explained, generally, the number of women candidates in Indonesian elections is increasing and their electoral votes are also increasing. However, the gap between high electoral votes for women nominees (24.01%) and their seat allocation (20.52%) is still a problem. The high electoral votes imply that the public is willing to elect women candidates but the 4% parliamentary threshold and the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method for allocating seats in parties’ lists to ensure proportional representation are some of the causes of the gap.

Dr. Soetjipto summed up her analysis on the paradox of affirmative policy in Indonesian elections. At first, the policy is designated to empower Indonesian women by changing the subordinate relation experienced by women. The 30% women candidates mandatory rule was introduced to bridge the gap between male and female MPs before the Reform era. However, right now, the public only focuses on the number of women candidates, regardless of whether the 30% target is achieved or not. They do not focus on how women representatives in Parliament can transform the political scene in Indonesia or produce legislation on behalf of women’s agendas. As the result, the number of elected women do not have any correlation with the quality of legislation they enact since there is a tendency to prioritize the political interests and agenda of their political parties over various issues regarding Indonesia women. For that reason, regulations that are beneficial for women, such as the gender equality injustice bill, sexual violence bill, and the bill on domestic workers, fail to pass in the House of Representative.

In her final statement, Dr. Soetjipto emphasized that strengthening the gender perspective and analysis for critical issues affecting women, developing women’s network, and employing an intersectional approach to women issues are key to countering some challenges that Indonesian women face in the political arena, such as corruption, oligarchy, political dynasties, and lack of understanding on the need to empower women and ensure gender equality.

In her response to Dr. Oki’s comment about the role of women as political parties’ board members and the kind of education programs provided by political parties to their women candidates in Indonesia, Dr. Soetjipto explained that the law actually stipulates that parties should have 30% women as political parties’ board members at both the national and local level. This is one of the requirements of founding a political party in Indonesia, and it allows women the opportunity to compete in elections. However, even if they meet these regulations, the problem remains to be that political parties have a tendency to put women in administrative positions such as appointing them as secretaries or to specialized positions for women such as being chairs of women’s wing. This trend renders women powerless within their political parties. It is very rare to find a party that gives women a chance to sit in prestigious positions such as being chairs of the winning election committee or being heads of selection and nomination.

Regarding education programs in internal political parties, Dr. Soetjipto highlighted that political parties that get seats in Parliament receive funding from the state budget, which is allocated in accordance with the provisions of law that provide for education of political parties, including women. The problem is that political parties subject their members (both men and women) to the same political education, including ideologization, public speaking, and party constitution. They have not adopted any programs that focus on gender issues or gender mainstreaming. If their women members happen to have knowledge about gender issues, usually they might have got it from activists, the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, or other funded institutions such as UNDP, IRI, etc.

In response to the audience’s questions regarding mobilization of women in the 2019 election, Dr. Soetjipto described that the last election was a bitter experience for women’s movement in Indonesia. Political parties and the elite’s agenda divided the women’s movement between the “Emak-Emak” (conservative) and the “Ibu Bangsa” (feminist movement), both of which had different agendas. The first group of women was defending family values and women and economic empowerment while the other one was promoting gender justice and the rights of women. Both of these sides claimed that they were seeking to empower women, but they seemed to forget the fact that there are bigger issues beyond the number of seats in Parliament or political positions for women. The movements did not realize that they were actually being used by the political parties to publicize their agendas so they can win elections.

There were also questions regarding the situation of women’s representation in Japan and how to overcome the problem. Dr. Soetjipto emphasized that the problem is everywhere, not only in Japan or Indonesia, and starting by numbers, the situation will eventually change. Dr. Oki further explained that one of the reasons the Japanese government does not want to implement the 30% quota for women is because of the idea of separation between politics and government in Japan. She also added that some women representatives do not support the quota systems simply because they do not want a system that will be seen as “specialized.” Participants continued asking questions, thus leading to lively discussions.

Reported by Waode Hanifah Instiqomah
(Doctoral Student, Hitotsubashi University)

【Date/Time】January, 30th, 2020  18:00~20:00
【Seminar Venue】#126, 1st floor, Main Building, Ochanomizu University
【Speaker】Dr. Ani Widyani Soetjipto (University of Indonesia)
Gender and Politics in Indonesia: An Analysis of the 2019 General Election
【Discussant】 Dr. Oki Naoko(Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University)
【Moderator】 Dr. Hirano Keiko (Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University)
【Number of attendees】15