H.E. Dr. Meutia Hatta Swasono
State Minister for Women Empowerment
before 51st Session of
The Commission on the Status of Women
New York, 26 February 2007
The Beijing Platform for Action held out the promise to women across the globe that their rights would be promoted and protected, as well as barriers to gender equality, development and peace would be removed. Since its adoption, Indonesia has been endeavoring to fulfil that promise. Indeed, our meeting today is another reminder for ensuring further practical progress of our commitment to respect and fulfill that promise made to half of the world’s population.
In addressing this matter, Indonesia associates itself with the statement by the Representative of Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
It is an undeniable fact that Indonesian women possess vast potential. In order to allow them to realize their potential, a series of normative measures have been put in place. Among these measures are Article 27 of the 1945 Constitution that guarantees equal rights for all citizens, both men and women, before the law; Presidential Decree No. 9/2000, infusing gender into all aspects of national development; as well as relevant laws on political parties and general elections. But even with these in place, the reality in Indonesia still falls far short of the vision of the BPFA.
Despite the fact that women are now participating fully in all spheres of life in Indonesian society, even reaching the highest level of political authority as evidenced by the choice for the fourth Indonesian President, in general they still lag well behind their male counterparts. Improving this situation is difficult because of the low percentage of women in Indonesia’s Parliament. They make up less than 13% of its total representatives. However, work is being done to change this.
Aware of the fact that Law No. 31/2002 on Political Parties, Law No. 12/2003 on General Elections, and Law No. 22/2003 on the Format and Status of National and Provincial Parliaments have not proven sufficient to enhance women’s participation in decision-making mechanisms at various levels during elections, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself, has proposed improvements to those laws.
Focusing on legislation dealing with the selection of candidates by political parties for general elections, he has called for an open electoral system based on proportional representation. The aim is to enable political parties to compile candidates lists resulting from popular support and not political patronage. This proposal would enable more women candidates to be elected as representatives to the national Parliament.
At this point allow me to share with you the latest policy initiatives that have been taken to implement the BPFA. In 2006, the Government, wanting to give full expression to the Domestic Violence Act of 2004, passed the Regulation on the Organization and Management of Victims Rehabilitation. In that same year, the Protection of Witnesses and Victims Act was also enacted.
Other measures undertaken to protect women and children from violence include the establishment of Hospital-based Integrated Centres at the national and district levels with early warning/detection capabilities. There are also 238 Special Treatment Units being administered by the police throughout the country to provide assistance and protection to women and girl victims of violence.
To deal with another form of abuse, poor families and their new-born babies are being shielded from predatory businessmen who facilitate migrants. Steps have been taken to provide 2.4 million birth certificates free of charge to these families over the next five years. These certificates will help to curb identification fraud involved in the illegal deployment of women migrant workers overseas. Work is also being done to complete the Act on Elimination of People Trafficking.
The fact is most of our efforts are designed to bring about a paradigm shift in our society. Therefore the Indonesian Government will continue to implement a comprehensive gender sensitization programme for the benefit of all stakeholders. This programme includes a literacy programme on national laws to educate women about their rights; sensitization of policy makers, planners and implementers about the issues; the establishment of a gender disaggregated data and information system; and the mainstreaming of gender perspectives into national development plans and policies, including the budgeting processes.
In conclusion, Madame Chair, Indonesia is determined to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To ensure its progress, an enabling international environment and cooperation is a prerequisite. These concerted efforts should result in a favourable shift of mindset and paradigm. Our deliberations today are indeed calculated to achieve just such a shift.