Women are integral part of Indonesian success


Public Lecture by UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet “Women's Leadership. Jakarta, Indonesia, 3 December 2012.

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Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here in Jakarta and to have this opportunity to speak with you today. I thank the Ministry of Women's Empowerment for organizing this lecture and the Secretary to the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, Sri Danti Anwar, for hosting me today.

Everywhere I go I say that the world needs more women leaders. Here in Indonesia, there is no shortage of women who have done extraordinary things, from the natural sciences to highest ranks of politics.

Being here in the third-largest democracy in the world, it is inspiring to see the strong role women have played in Indonesia's success, and what potential there is for women to shape its future.

Indonesia's strong economy is growing; there are more girls in school and universities; and you have undertaken a successful transition to democracy that has made Indonesia a leader in the region and in the world.

My main message today is that at this critical juncture, Indonesia can make even greater progress by increasing the participation and leadership of women in all aspects of its democracy, its economy and in efforts for peace and stability.

First, I would like to share some thoughts on the importance of women's political participation.Women have been an integral part of Indonesian democracy since the transition. Their influence continues to rise. The last election saw an increase in the percentage of women in the national legislature of six per cent.

Women now hold 18 percent of the seats in Indonesia's national parliament. The day when Indonesia meets and surpasses the critical mass of 30 percent of women in parliament is not far off.

I know that the government of Indonesia has made a concerted effort to get more women elected through quotas. Now, there are 104 women in the national legislature. It was exciting to hear that 400 women legislators from across the country come together earlier this year in April at the national meeting of parliamentary women's caucuses.

Indonesia has recognized that women's leadership is integral to a democratic, peaceful and just State. You recognize that national leadership must reflect Indonesian society- diverse, with a whole spectrum of needs and interests among its men and women.

I am a vocal supporter of temporary special measures, like the quotas instituted here in Indonesia. So far 33 countries have achieved the critical mass of 30 percent women in parliament, and the vast majority has done it through affirmative action such as quotas.

In countries with more women in parliament we see that the legislative agenda is fundamentally different. And I'm not just talking about “women's issues.

Studies show that these parliaments tend to produce laws, social programmes and budgets that promote equality and benefit men, women and families. For example, a study of the 19 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1970 to 1990 found a significant correlation between women's representation in parliament and stronger childcare and leave policies.

I know from my experience as President of Chile that when women are at the table, it changes the nature of the discussion. The dialogue is broader; there is a stronger search for solutions. The policy outcomes are better.

This is true not only in the capital, in national politics- but also in the provinces, the cities and the villages. Democracy needs to lay down roots. Local politics is a microcosm of women's political empowerment, and there are examples from all over the world to prove it.

Let me share with you an example from India, where quotas guarantee that women comprise one-third of village council members. Today there are a million and a half women in India sitting on village councils making decisions and winning elections as heads of their villages. The result is that village councils are now dealing with issues that affect women's lives and where women have interest and expertise, such as improving water and sanitation.

Indonesia has made tremendous strides in democracy in just over a decade. There have been three democratic elections nationwide and major reform of institutions across the archipelago, including large-scale decentralization. That is why women's participation at every level of government and in civil society is so important- to make the transition in Indonesia stronger, more inclusive, and more permanent.

The Indonesian constitution guarantees equality for women, and the government has taken many steps to protect women's rights, including a national “zero-tolerance policy towards violence against women.

But in some places, local laws are still holding women back. A study by Indonesia's Commission on Violence against Women found that 154 discriminatory regulations were passed from 1999-2009 at the provincial, municipal and village levels.

Dismantling laws and regulations that prevent women's participation in public life and enforcing those laws that protect women's rights will usher in a new era of democracy in Indonesia for the benefit of all of society.

Now I'd like to focus on why it's so important to unleash women's economic potential by advancing opportunities and equality for women.

Study after study points to Indonesia's economic resilience -and to its promise. It is projected that Indonesia's economy could jump to the seventh-largest in the world by 2030. But there's also consensus that the rise of the Indonesian economy will depend on its ability to take advantage of all its available skills and talent.

The situation is not unique to Indonesia. Evidence continues to mount- from the World Bank, the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the private sector - showing that gender equality contributes to increased growth and productivity. What is unique about Indonesia is just how much it stands to gain when women are full and equal participants and leaders in the economy and in society.

In real terms, what all of these studies find is the benefit of unleashing opportunity. When women have opportunities, the economic gains are undeniable. Women reinvest up to 90 percent of their income into their children and families, causing a multiplier effect that amounts to better health, better education, and improved well-being. It amounts to sustainable, inclusive economic growth.

Women are now four in ten workers in the world. They continue to represent great untapped potential, here in Indonesia and around the world. No matter the country, women face similar obstacles: lesser pay than men for work of equal value; restrictions on access to land, credit, or property; the double burden of work at home and on the job; lack of women leaders and decision-makers.

My message to you is: we need to make the investment in women. Governments, civil society, and the private sector all have a hand in this investment.

The investment in women is especially urgent for migrant workers. Women comprise 80 percent of the migrant work force Indonesia, most of them as domestic workers. Too many women seeking work abroad have ended up as victims of illegal recruitment, forced labor and sex trafficking. Migrant workers need comprehensive legal protection and a policy framework that promotes human rights both within Indonesia and in the region.

Those companies and individuals who are responsible for forcing women into inescapable lives of violence, abuse and exploitation must be brought to justice. Strict oversight and severe penalties must be used to keep training centres and recruitment agencies in check.

UN Women commends Indonesia's ratification of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers in April. Today I call on Indonesia to intensify its leadership as a champion of migrant workers' rights. We join the CEDAW committee in encouraging the government to adopt a Domestic Workers' Protection Law with clear and consistent regulations for domestic workers. And I encourage you to send a clear message to the world by ratifying the ILO Domestic Workers Convention.

An investment in women will bring real change: more women will lift themselves out of poverty. More children will finish school, stay healthy, and have better chances and choices for their future. More women will have real economic choices for jobs where they are treated fairly and their rights are protected. And more women will emerge as leaders that will turn the tide for women's economic empowerment in every sector.

According to a McKinsey survey on women's leadership in Indonesia, only five percent of CEOs and six percent of company board members are women. And it found that 40 percent of women leave the workforce early, the majority of them for family reasons.

We need more women leaders to tackle the many systemic challenges women face as they move up the career ladder: a lack of mentors and access to informal networks that lead to recognition and promotion; persistent cultural stereotypes about the role of women in business; and inflexible work schedules that make maintaining the work-life balance a daily struggle.

UN Women relies on partnerships with government, civil society and the private sector in our work for women's economic empowerment. That's why we've teamed up with the UN Global Compact to develop the Women's Empowerment Principles for the private sector.

These principles encourage companies to set goals and targets with high-level support and to share updates on their progress with the public and with other companies. So far, over 466 CEOs have committed to them and I encourage companies here in Indonesia to join this impressive global network.

As more and more women emerge as trailblazers in politics, the economy and society, deep-seated stereotypes and cultural mentalities change towards the role of women in society. We cannot underestimate the importance of women leaders to open up minds and aspirations, opportunities for equality, and respect for human rights.

One of Indonesia's major achievements for women and girls is reaching gender parity in education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The value of education is well-known for this new generation of women leaders on the rise.

Girls who finish secondary education are protected from a wide range of risk factors: they are six times less likely to marry as children, and significantly reduce their risk of domestic violence, early pregnancy, maternal death and disability, and HIV infection. A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of five.

I have said that it is time to take up the challenge of getting women into formal positions of leadership: in the formal economy, in civil society, and in all levels of governance.

It is time to unleash the full potential of women and girls.

And it is time to promote and protect the human rights of all people, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, and the right to live free from violence and discrimination.

I am pleased to report that UN Women is working in Indonesia with partners in government, civil society and the private sector to eliminate the barriers that prevent women from fully participating in politics, in the economy, and in peace building.

We are working with NGOs and local authorities to draft equitable local laws that align with provisions in the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Violence against Women to promote human rights and gender equality.

We are providing support for pre-departure training of women migrant workers, disseminating information on safe migration and providing legal assistance for workers and their families. We are supporting the government and NGOs to advocate for the Domestic Workers Bill and to enhance social protection and labor policies.

We are supporting community efforts to combat violence against women, piloting a Safe Villages initiative in two villages in Aceh. Community members have organized a community watch and trained local law enforcement, hospital staff and counselors on how to respond effectively and ensure that survivors have access to justice.

We are working with the Indonesian government to finalize the National action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, based on the principles of Security Council Resolution 1325 to include more women in peace building.

We are working with the provincial government in Aceh to promote women's leadership, maintain peace, and foster justice and democracy.

It is clear that the ideas of equal opportunity articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, and the Platform of Action of the Fourth World Women's Conference in Beijing - that women's rights are human rights- are taking hold in Indonesia.

I thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on women's leadership here in Indonesia and around the world. The world is watching Indonesia as it strengthens its democracy, engages its people as participants in the process, and overcomes the challenges posed by the past.

Democracy, peace and freedom rest on the shoulders of men and women and youth leaders committed to equality and justice for all in Indonesia. The future is in their hands. I can feel their spirit here in Jakarta and in this room. And I can assure you that UN Women stands beside you as you work towards peace, justice and equality.