The Struggle for Women’s Representation in Indonesian Politics: An Uphill Battle
A Step Forward but Not Enough
In the 2019 general election, Indonesians elected more women into the national parliament than ever before, with women’s representation rising to 20.9%. This increase was attributed to the implementation of a 30% candidate quota for women, which compelled political parties to nominate more women candidates. However, this quota did not lead to equal representation, as more than 20% of electoral districts did not elect any women to parliament.
The Barriers Women Face
Women candidates in Indonesia face significant obstacles that hinder their successful entry into politics. These challenges include patriarchal attitudes, economic inequality, and the dominance of political dynasties. High campaign costs and the need for name recognition often mean that elite women and celebrities are more likely to be nominated. However, these women are not necessarily representative of the broader population of Indonesian women, and their candidacies can reinforce existing inequalities.
A Concerning Policy Change
Recent changes to the regulations on quota implementation have sparked concerns. The requirement for a 30% candidate quota for women has been effectively diluted without public discussion and against the advice of the Supreme Court. This regulatory change allows for the rounding down when calculating the required number of women candidates, potentially reducing the actual number of women in the candidate list. This move raises fears about the erosion of democratic institutions in the country and threatens the progress made so far in increasing women’s representation in Indonesian politics.
Regional Disparities and Unfulfilled Quotas
The 2019 elections also showed stark regional disparities in the representation of women. Some districts did not elect any women representatives at all, a fact that underscores the uneven impact of the quota system across the country. Despite the overall increase in women’s representation, the 30% quota remains unfulfilled. This shortfall is concerning given that the results were still below the international average at the time of 24.3%.
Achieving gender equality in Indonesia’s political landscape requires a societal shift in mindsets and attitudes towards women in politics. The progressive strengthening of quotas on women’s political participation in Indonesia has been associated with improved representation of women in the national parliament. However, further work is needed to ensure that this representation is not only maintained but also expanded. As the next elections approach, it is crucial to scrutinize regulatory changes and advocate for policies that genuinely promote women’s political participation.