Women pessimistic about their prospects in Indonesian elections

25 Feb 2009
Paul Barber, TAPOL

A ruling by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has led to considerable doubt about whether women will benefit from a quota system that requires one in three candidates in party lists to be a woman.

The ruling means that candidates with the most votes will be elected irrespective of gender in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 9 April.

Women’s groups are angry that the ruling is a setback for the struggle to secure a more proportionate position for women in the Indonesian House of Representatives, DPR.  Some are concerned that women may not even gain the same proportion of seats as they won in the previous elections in 2004.

The implications of the Constitutional Court’s controversial decision are considered in ‘Women in Parliament: Quotas and Beyond’, published online today by TAPOL in its latest Election Update.

The quota system was introduced in Indonesia as a temporary measure to increase the level of women’s representation in the DPR, which currently stands at 11.3 percent.  The belief is that women’s rights will be taken seriously only when there is a greater presence of women in national and regional assemblies.

However, a number of women activists have warned that the campaign for affirmative action should not result in the neglect of more pressing issues such as domestic violence, discrimination against women, and violence experienced by women in the context of environmental degradation caused by development projects.

The latest news on this and other election issues is available from TAPOL’s fortnightly news digests.


Tagged: Elections, Women