Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Despite having Retno Marsudi as the Foreign Affairs Minister, women are still underrepresented in Indonesia's ambassadorship positions, according to a former envoy and think-tank founder.
"Only 9 percent of Indonesian ambassadors are women," Dino Patti Djalal, the founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), told the recent 2023 Indonesia Women Foreign Policy Forum (IWFP) forum in Jakarta.
"And if you look at the bureaucracy, there hasn't been a woman in echelon 1 or director-general positions, etc," Dino, who was the Indonesian Ambassador to the US from 2010-2013, said.
It is also mostly men who get assigned to strategic places such as the US, Canada, and Germany, according to Dino.
It is not just Indonesia that is facing gender inequality in diplomacy. The 2023 Women in Diplomacy Index published by the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy revealed that women only held 20.54 percent of all ambassadorial posts globally.
The stats on Indonesia on the 2023 Women in Diplomacy Index are also not far off from Dino's estimates. Indonesia's woman ambassadorship stands at 13 percent, slightly better than the 2022 figures which amounted to 11 percent.
Thailand has the highest women ambassador proportion among ASEAN member states, namely 31.5 percent. Followed by The Philippines at 26 percent, although there were a large number of vacancies at the time of the data gathering.
Canada is taking the lead in terms of female ambassador share, with women representing 51 percent of its top diplomatic posts, according to the report.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda told the 2023 IWFP forum that women had the potential to become great ambassadors. Women's diplomatic skills are also as great as men's.
"Give women equal opportunity. Give women equal playing fields. They can be good ambassadors," Hassan said.
The 2023 IWFP workshop was a collaboration between FPCI and the US Embassy in Jakarta. As the name suggests, the two-day workshop focused on nurturing foreign policy-making and public speaking skills, among others, among the selected participants. The participants were all Indonesian women in mid-career positions who work on foreign policy issues.