APSN Banner

Eliminating women's rights issues in the debate of presidential and vice-presidential candidate

Tempo - February 6, 2024

Farida Indriastuti – The debate of presidential and vice-presidential candidates for 2024 will enter its fifth round. Ironically, in the four debates the candidates eliminated the crucial issue of women's rights.

Even though the word woman was uttered six times by the candidates during the public debate. The themes of the debate that mention the word woman include the theme; sustainable development, natural resources, agrarian, energy, food, indigenous communities and villages. There is almost no strategy from the candidates to advance Indonesian women, nothing!

In fact, in the agrarian conflict involving a nickel mining company and local residents, for example, women are the most oppressed, because women are the first group to face the problems. It is also difficult for women to gain access to information and be involved in disaster advocacy – when the negative impacts of environmental damage occur around mines which are close to plantations, agricultural land and local residential areas. Not to mention the potential for physical and verbal violence that women often experience, another impact is the decline in sexual and reproductive health in women – due to poor quality of air and water consumed.

The Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) noted that during President Jokowi's administration there were 2,498 agrarian conflicts, or around 30 cases erupted every month. There is not a day without agrarian conflict in Indonesia which harms women and is the most affected by a double burden. The Women's Solidarity Organization notes that women are not an important element and are not taken into account in the development agenda that is hegemony by the business and political elite. In the midst of massive agrarian inequality, 1 percent of entrepreneurs control 68 percent of the land in Indonesia (BPS data). Then, this inequality exacerbates the high rate of gender inequality in Indonesia, reaching 0.697 (WEF data). Moreover, the inequality of women in politics is far from the global average, it is very low, only reaching 0.169. Women's representation in parliament alone in the 2019 to 2024 period only reached 21.39 percent.

On the other hand, there are no presidential and vice-presidential candidates who speak out about the conditions of Indonesian female migrant workers who often face physical and verbal violence abroad, and often become victims of cross-border trafficking. At least 657 Indonesian migrant workers from East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have died abroad in the last five years, most of whom were illegal workers. This figure was obtained from the number of coffins arriving in NTT via El Tari Kupang Airport which were handled by Catholic nuns who were members of the Indonesian Migrant Worker Volunteers. The figure of 657 migrant workers who died only came from one province in Indonesia, namely NTT, not the number of migrant workers who died from all of Indonesia.

Even though the voices of Indonesian migrant workers abroad are very significant. The General Election Commission (KPU) has determined a permanent list of overseas voters (DPTLN) of 1,750,474 voters. This figure is indeed small compared to Indonesian citizens who live abroad. Ironically, voter numbers continue to decline over the years, because Indonesian female migrant workers continue to be marginalised. From the monitoring of Migrant Care, most presidential candidates, vice-presidential candidates and parliamentary candidates did not show ideas and proposals in term of the migrant worker protection agenda.

The Anies-Muhaimin couple was quite elaborative in describing ideas regarding the migrant worker protection. However, the Prabowo-Gibran couple has very little ideas about the protecting of migrant workers. Meanwhile, the Ganjar-Mahfud couple places the migrant worker agenda in Indonesia's foreign policy in the form of international cooperation to counter human trafficking.

In the 2024 presidential and vice-presidential elections, there is no even a single of female candidate, which of course makes it more difficult for women to continue to fight in the national political arena. Even though the number of women in the 2024 presidential and vice-presidential elections reached 102,474,462 or around 50.08 percent. Women who are also in voting positions have various problems including the gender wage gap, meaning that men's wages are greater than women's wages. Apart from that, other gender injustices such as sexual violence and harassment, domestic violence, women's economic poverty, maternal and toddler mortality rates, underage marriage and others.

There are limited opportunities for women to occupy strategic positions in the political system and culture in Indonesia, due to the lack of space and support for women. The electoral system, which applies a threshold for presidential and vice-presidential nominations of 30 percent, further narrows the space for women to contest. There are many intelligent and capable women, but they do not have a political party, do not have financial capital and will find it difficult to get the opportunity to nominate for president or vice president.

Political conditions controlled by oligarchs and a patriarchal political environment, combined with the madness of political dynasties, increasingly exclude women from the political arena. Women's involvement in politics is not only for women's representation, but must also be balanced by political movements within groups and the women's movement itself at all levels. Winning the political space in Indonesia is not easy for women, women will go through various obstacles, the road is really steep and winding.

The Prabowo-Gibran couple, for example, believes that Indonesia needs to import cows for the free milk program. Of course, it denies the role of women who have been fighting for exclusive ASI – mother's breast feeding and are actively involved in the growth and development of their children. Babies who grow up with exclusive nutritional intake from breast feeding from 0 to 6 months old, have strong antibodies to fight viruses and bacteria, in addition to supporting brain and physical development. Meanwhile, for mothers, it can eliminate trauma during childbirth and prevent breast cancer. Then the Prabowo-Gibran couple considered fulfilling children's ideal nutrition by providing free lunches and cow's milk. Meanwhile, Prabowo's food program through food estates failed in various regions such as North Sumatra, Central Kalimantan and Papua.

Meanwhile, food estate is not a food system, it is just an instant agenda that ignores food diversification as well as climate impacts, and even destroys tropical forests, forest biodiversity, ecology, ecosystems – which nullifies the cultural patterns of people's food agriculture which is based on a poly cultural food crop diversity with a system agroecology, which is environmentally friendly with organic fertilizer. This agroecological farming system balances nature and improves fragile soil conditions – without using chemical fertilizers such as pesticides and others. In fact, women are the ones who have the most ability in managing sustainable agriculture based on family farming rather than wasting funds on failed food estates.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1830285/eliminating-womens-rights-issues-in-the-debate-of-presidential-and-vice-presidential-candidat