H.E. Dr. Meutia Hatta Swasono
State Minister for Women Empowerment
Before General Assembly Informal Thematic Debate
Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
New York, 6 March 2007
With the promise of equality and empowerment to women yet to be fulfilled, let me begin by thanking you for your valuable initiative. Having you preside over our debate today strengthens the incentive for us to plan better, think deeper, and act swifter in achieving the goals and objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Indonesia has adopted various measures to bring about the empowerment of its women. At present, a National Plan of Action on Gender Mainstreaming is being prepared. This will help to accelerate the implementation of Presidential Instruction No. 9/2000 on Gender Mainstreaming in National Development which is regarded as the key national policy for empowerment. Towards that end, local governments have engendered their provincial, district and municipal development plans.
So far, gender issues have been integrated into the Mid-Term National Development Plan 2004 – 2009 which covers a variety of development sectors important to women. There are currently 29 Gender Mainstreaming Working Groups at the national level, 30 women’s bureaus at the provincial level, 230 women’s divisions at municipal level, and 304 Gender Focal Points functioning in 440 municipalities to provide technical assistance, coordinate, implement, monitor and evaluate activities leading to the implementation of Presidential Instruction No. 9/2000.
Aware of the need to bridge the social gap between men and women, the Indonesian Government, in close collaboration with concerned civil society organizations and UN agencies, whose support we greatly appreciate, has channeled its efforts along four lines, namely (i) protection of women against extreme violence and suffering; (ii) enhancement of the quality of women’s lives in accordance with the human development index; (iii) promotion of women’s participation and contribution in public life and decision making positions; and (iv) guaranteeing the enactment of fair, non-discriminatory and non-gender-biased national laws and regulations, including legislation to empower women politically.
Mindful that the laws on general elections did not prove sufficient to enhance women’s participation in decision-making mechanisms at various levels in the 2004 elections, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has proposed improvements to those laws. He has called for an open electoral system, based on proportional representation, which would require political parties to compile candidates lists resulting from popular support rather than political patronage. This, he rightly reasons, will enable more women candidates to participate in elections and become representatives in parliament.
At the same time, the Ministry of Women Empowerment has undertaken various awareness-raising and capacity-building programmes at national, provincial and district levels in order to boost women’s confidence to take part in decision-making processes at these levels and to raise their awareness of the importance of standing up for their rights and needs.
With regard to the economic empowerment of women, substantial use is being made of micro-finance and micro-credit to support poor women’s economic activities. Parliament has in fact passed an Act on National Strategy for Poverty Alleviation to provide guidance to all parties in combating poverty and the Government is preparing a draft Act on Micro-financing Firms.
To expand women’s role and deepen their participation in the economy, Indonesia has established a Forum on the Increase of the Productivity of Women in the Economy and developed models on promoting the economic empowerment of women in several provinces. In the 2004 – 2009 Mid-Term National Development Plan, the Government has formulated policies to increase the quality of institutional and cooperative activities and the development of small and medium enterprises for women.
Accordingly, five priority programme areas are being emphasized. These areas serve to: (1) create a conducive environment for development of cooperatives, as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; (2) develop support systems; (3) allow women to develop entrepreneurial and competitive advantage; (4) develop micro-sized enterprises and (5) increase the quality of cooperative institutions.
Since the wider external international environment has a decisive impact on the evolution of efforts to assist women within Indonesia, it is vital that the international environment provide more than inspiration for action nationally. In terms of its structure and operations, it must embody effectiveness and efficiency. That is why my delegation is of the view that the recommendation of the High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence about changes to the existing institutional gender architecture deserves our serious consideration. Enhancement of the system’s operational elements must result from tangible and practical programmes on the ground.
In closing, let me quote what President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated last December during the commemoration of National Mother’s Day. “Our national symbol, Burung Garuda, will not be able to fly high with only one wing. It would fly high with its two wings. Those two wings symbolize men and women”.