Press statement by Michelle Bachelet in Jakarta, Indonesia

Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Press Statement by Michelle Bachelet in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

Good Afternoon, Thank you very much for being here this afternoon.

This is my first visit to Indonesia as the UN Women Executive Director. It is a visit I have looked forward to very much.

My sincere appreciation goes to the Government and the people of Indonesia for your hospitality and your warm welcome. I am inspired by your diversity, determination and democratic reform. We have much to learn from you and look forward to continuing and expanding our collaboration.

Michelle Bachelet during a visit to a women's community center outside of Jakarta. Photo credit: UN Women

While here in Jakarta, I met with government officials, Islamic scholars, and members of society. Earlier today I participated in the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting - its fourth ministerial conference on women and development. I stressed the importance of women's empowerment, dignity and equality.

Advancing women's equality and empowerment offers real hope for our shared future. When women enjoy equal opportunity and participation, societies and economies grow healthier and stronger.

This year I have three priorities for UN Women: Advancing women's political participation and leadership, expanding women's economic opportunities, and ending violence against women and girls.

Last year the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Women's Political Participation. The resolution calls on all countries to increase the number of women at all levels of political decision-making. Nations agree that this is essential to achieve equality, sustainable development, peace and democracy.

Today women constitute half the world's population. Yet women remain under-represented in positions of leadership. Women constitute just 20 percent of parliamentarians globally and 18 percent of the parliamentarians here in Indonesia.

UN Women is a strong proponent of temporary special measures, such as quotas, to achieve at least 30 percent of women in parliament, in line with international agreements. We need more women leaders working alongside men to make societies economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Women also need equal economic opportunities. When women can participate fully in the economy, economic growth is higher, more inclusive and more sustainable.

It is time to remove the barriers that hold women and economies back. Today women's wages represent between 70 - 90 per cent of the wages of men in most countries, and women continue to face a multiple burden and discrimination at home and on the job.

In Indonesia, female participation in the labour market is 51 percent compared to 84 percent for men. While women's participation in formal employment is increasing, women are more likely to enter vulnerable employment with poor working conditions and the lack of welfare or social security benefits. By promoting equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity, and policies to reconcile family and work responsibilities such as childcare, women can play their full role in the economy.

Increasing the female labor participation could translate into a huge economic potential for Indonesia.

The United Nations estimates that limits on women's participation in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region cost the economy an estimated US$89 billion every year. In fact, data from 135 countries in all regions show that empowering women and reducing gender inequality enhances productivity and economic growth.

Urgent action is also needed to end violence against women and girls, a problem that affects all countries around the world. UN Women is working with countries worldwide to prevent and end violence against women. Indonesia enacted a Domestic Violence Law in 2004. Stronger commitment is needed to provide services to victims and eliminate the culture of impunity and silence to ensure the Law is enforced.

I thank the people and Government of Indonesia for your commitment to peace, democracy, justice and equality.

Thank you. And I look forward to answering your questions.