Tempo.Co, Jakarta – The Women's Parliamentary Caucus of the Republic of Indonesia signed a declaration today, November 29, 2022, to "condemn any form of gender-based violence that hinders women from fulfilling their equal rights" and to urge all groups to allow women to safely participate in politics.
The document, signed at the parliament building, is the first-ever official declaration in the country that explicitly addresses gender-based violence in politics, one of the biggest obstacles to women achieving full political rights.
The Women's Parliamentary Caucus comprises all 167 women members of the House of Representatives and the House of Regional Representatives.
The signing was a part of the "parliamentarians standing up to violence against women in politics" event, organized by Westminster Foundation for Democracy and UN Women Indonesia to mark the United Nations 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Puan Maharani, Speaker of the House of Representatives (the country's first female Speaker), signed the declaration virtually.
"From gendered double standards to sexual harassment, the unique obstacles faced by women running for offices need to be brought into sharp relief. Today, we gather here to convey a clear message: we must act together to break the culture of silence that perpetuates violence against women," stated Puan.
Diah Pitaloka, Chairperson of the Presidium of the Women's Parliamentary Caucus, called on all parties to immediately ensurethe protection of women from all forms of violence as citizens who actively participate in both general and regional elections.
During the event, representatives from the parliament, the National Commission on Violence against Women, leaders of political parties, and civil society activists discussed the structural and normative barriers to women in politics. The panelists spoke of how they themselves faced discrimination and hostility while running for office.
Women's representation in the parliament has been increasing – they now occupy almost 22 percent of seats, compared to nine per cent in the country's first democratic election in 1999.
However, Agus Wijayanto, Indonesia Country Representative of Westminster Foundation for Democracy, said that women make up almost 50 percent of the Indonesian population, yet they have not been adequately represented in our parliament.
"Having more women win parliamentary seats is crucial to allow them to be fully involved in decision-making to benefit all women and girls. At WFD, we are committed to helping remove barriers to Indonesian women entering politics," said Agus.
Jamshed Kazi, Representative and Liaison to ASEAN of UN Women Indonesia stated more men are needed to walk alongside women – as allies, peers and enablers – to break the glass ceilings that hinder women's meaningful political participation.
"To ensure that all spaces where decision-making takes place are free from discrimination and violence against women in politics," added Kazi.
A donation booth was set up at the event in partnership with Pundi Perempuan, a women's trust fund for responding to cases of violence against women and girls, to allow members of the parliament to support survivors of violence – the first step in turning their declaration into action.
After the half-day signing event, the members of parliament resumed discussing the enforcement of the Sexual Violence Crime Bill, which the parliament passed earlier in April.