Jakarta, May 9, 2007 — Currently, women in Indonesia are significantly under-represented in political participation at all levels and the number of women members of the national legislature is now lower than a decade ago during President Suharto’s New Order era. The Asia Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to Asia’s development since 1954, announced today it has signed an agreement with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Indonesia for a three-year, $1.2 million program to increase women’s political participation and strengthen good governance in Indonesia. This award marks the first-ever collaboration between the Norwegian Government and the Foundation in Indonesia.
Today, women constitute less than 12 percent of members of the National Parliament and more than half the country’s 440 district legislatures have no women members at all. There are a number of reasons for this, including the way political parties recruit candidates, structural barriers embedded in legislation regulating elections, and cultural prejudices against women as leaders.
This new collaboration between the Royal Norwegian Embassy and The Asia Foundation aims to reduce barriers to women’s political participation and strengthen the capacity and skills of women pursuing roles in politics, particularly in the run-up to Indonesia’s 2009 national elections.
“We believe that after three years this program will result in systemic change in Indonesia’s elections processes, making them more gender-equitable and fair, increasing the number of women running successful campaigns and becoming Indonesia’s future leaders,” said Douglas Ramage, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in Indonesia.
The program – to be implemented in four provinces: Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, East Java, South Sulawesi and Jakarta – will be carried out in cooperation with the Foundation’s trusted partners including the People’s Voter Education Network (Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih Rakyat, JPPR); the Jurnal Perempuan; the Indonesian Women’s Coalition; and the women’s wings of political parties and Islamic mass-based organizations Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama.
The program’s first priority is to ensure that gender and women’s participation issues will be an integral part of the voter education campaigns prior to the August 2007 first-ever gubernatorial elections in Jakarta.