Women Reps Gain in Indonesia’s House

A record high 18 percent of Indonesia’s new Parliament seats will be filled by women. That’s according to the latest counts by the Centre for Electoral Reform. The Center reports that 88 seats have been filled by women reps so far from the April 9 elections. It expects that number to rise as the full tally becomes available.

A woman casts her vote during the April elections. (Photo: Yan Arief, flickr.com / Creative Commons)
A woman casts her vote during the April elections. (Photo: Yan Arief, flickr.com / Creative Commons)

One of those who is expected to win her seat is Rieke Diah Pitaloka. She told The Jakarta Post that, despite the gains, women will still face challenges in their new positions.

“Quantity is not always in line with quality. If these female candidates still carry with them a sense of inferiority in the face of the existing macho paradigm, then the record breaking percentage will not mean anything,” said Rieke.

The Inter Press Service also reports that, although the rise in women representation was unexpected, it may not necessarily mean a more active pursuit of women’s issues.

Still, nearly half of Indonesia’s 171 million voters are women and they have long been underrepresented in federal government. (The highest number of women seated in the House before now was just 65 seats, or 13 percent, during the 1987-1992 period.) In the latest election, 35 percent of the candidates were women, and advocates have long fought for a quota of 30 percent female representatives in the House to better reflect the country’s population. But efforts have hit stiff resistance from conservative parties.

Last fall, I sat down with a group of women in Jakarta to discuss issues that women face in the country. They were Catholic, Muslim and Christian; mothers and wives; government workers and journalists and writers. Check out a short clip of the video-in-progress below. (Subtitles coming soon!)

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