Women must be proactive in politics

A discussion and book launching of “Hak Politik Perempuan: Riuh pada Angka, Senyap dalam Hak” (“Women’s Political Rights: Riotous of Numbers, Silence of Rights”) held at Sofyan Hotel, Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Monday (01/07/2019). (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – Women’s political study agency Estetika Institute held a discussion and book launching of “Hak Politik Perempuan: Riuh pada Angka, Senyap dalam Hak” (“Women’s Political Rights: Riotous of Numbers, Silence of Rights”) at the Sofyan Hotel, Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Monday (01/07/2019). This discussion highlighted the fact that it is difficult for women to become Legislative Candidates and compete in political contests. Even though the law requires that women be allowed as Legislative Candidates, their existence is usually underestimated.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia – “LIPI”)’ Political Observer Siti Zuhro stated that if a woman enters politics, she needs a lot of strength to reassure political parties that her presence and participation will contribute to vote earnings of the party. “Female groups must continue to build up their political influence by creating good strategies, whether through legal regulations or existing socio-political networking for the sake of gender equality,” she stated.

Siti noted that most successful Legislative Candidates for the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) succeed because of strong networking. Furthermore, Siti states that a woman who wants to continue competing in politics must be more proactive and elegant in her approach to political party elites, so that they will become more sympathetic to her struggle to exercise her rights. “Women must also increase their efforts and take action to build women’s communities in order to improve their progress in politics. They must beware and not use their success for personal gain, but rather for common interests instead,” she said.

Siti believes that modern women should not be marginalized. Women must be able to do their best and be successful in their respective fields. Women must encourage and support each other in order to achieve mutual success, instead of just badmouthing each other. Women must support the success of other women who get it before they themselves do.

Similarly, to Siti, Elections and Democracy Association (Perkumpulan untuk Pemilihan Umum dan Demokrasi – “PERLUDEM”) Director Titi Anggraini said that about 20.5% of total elected Legislative Candidates are women. “Their backgrounds are generally party activists, relatives of politicians, and professionals. These groups overlap each other,” she said.

Titi stated that the Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”) has not named any elected Legislative Members as the Constitution Court would only wind up disputes concerning Legislative Elections on 6-9 August 2019. However, temporary data stated that 80% of the elected Legislative Candidates are the number 1 or 2 candidates in the Party Candidate list. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”) may have the highest number votes gained, but the National Democratic (“Nasdem”) Party has the highest percentage of female candidates elected. The Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – “PKS”) has the highest leap of number of female candidates: in the previous period, only 1 DPR member from PKS is female, while in 2019 PKS placed 8 of its female candidates as DPR members.

The National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa – “PKB”) is the party with the highest number of female candidates (12 people). This is because the Party’s organizational base, the religious association Nahdatul Ulama, has a number of autonomous female organizations attached to it. “Currently, affirmation politics has not been institutionalized within political parties. Therefore, we need to suggest the change of requirement for setting a candidate as number 1 in the Party Candidate list: he/she must represent at least 30% of votes in his/her voting region, and he/she must have been a cadre of the party for at least 3 years,” Titi said.

The participation of women in the 2019 Elections has increased from that of the previous Elections. However, this increase is not followed with the increase of female election percentage into the parliament. Indikator’s President Director Burhanuddin Muhtadi Ph.D. stated that there seems to be a belief among voters that a woman must prove their ability even before they are allowed entry into politics. Structurally, they are generally added as candidate number 3 in the Party Candidate list…and then only because the law requires that at least there is at least 1 female candidate for each 3 Legislative Candidates submitted by a party, not because the party acknowledge their ability or want more female representation in the Legislative. In 2014, about 62% of the elected Legislative Candidates are the #1 candidates in the Party Candidate list, estimated to shrink to about 55% of Legislative Candidates in 2019. “The issue is that the number of female candidates who made the muster is not proportional with either the number of female candidates submitted by parties, or with the number of female voters in an area. The number of female voters according to the Final Voters’ List (Daftar Pemilih Tetap – “DPT”) is about 50%, the total number of female Legislative Candidates is about 40%, but only about 20% of female Legislative Candidates become Legislative Members,” he said. 

The participation rate of female Legislative Candidate in the 2019 Elections is 40%, while male candidates total 60%. Burhanuddin states that the low level of female election can be caused by either of two categories: “supply” and “demand”. In terms of “supply”, there are much fewer female candidates submitted than male ones. In terms of “demand”, most voters in Indonesia remain discriminative against women in politics. “Our voters mostly still discriminate against female Legislative Candidates, and I don’t mean just male voters, but female voters themselves still think that it is improper for women to go into politics. Most of our citizens still think that women should follow religious strictures and avoid involvement in politics,” he said. (Dan)