Fri, 22 Dec 2000

Women have less seats in most govt offices: Report

JAKARTA (JP): A report on gender statistics and indicators released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) on Thursday shows that women were very much underrepresented in influential public sector positions.

Despite the fact that women make up over half of the total population of 209.5 million, their lack of inclusion in many fields is glaringly apparent.

One example is the limited number of female employees in many government offices.

For every 100 employees in the State Intelligence Coordinating Board, for example, only two are women.

In the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication and the Ministry of Forestry, there are only nine women employees for every 100 employees.

A similar situation prevails in the Ministry of Mining and Energy where there are only 16 women for every 100 employees.

In fact just one third of the some 4.5 million civil servants are women.

The higher up in the bureaucracy the fewer women there are.

Of the 25 first and second echelon officials in the bureaucracy only one is a woman.

In the diplomatic corps only one of the country's 21 ambassadors is a woman and there is also just one female out of the 24 consul generals.

Another reflection of this reality is that there are just 44 women out of 500 legislators in the House of Representatives.

This is actually a decline from the previous House which had 56 female legislators.

"The purpose (of the report) is mainly to help the State Ministry for Women's Empowerment formulate its policies," BPS chairperson Soedarti Surbakti told a media conference here.

One overarching reason for the lack of female participation is the difference in the level of education between men and women in the country.

Unfortunately, current indicators show that the percentage of women who have not even completed elementary school or ever gone to school is 13.5 percent, more than double the equivalent figure for men.

"In college, most women take humanities or social science subjects rather than engineering or science. While the market demands more engineering and science graduates," Soedarti said.

Despite the number of working women having increased year by year, the percentage of the female population who work, 45.6 percent, is much lower than the percentage of the total male population who work -- 73.5 percent.

"Many women prefer to work in the informal sector even though the level of legal protection (in that sector) is still low," Soedarti said.

The report also shows that women are usually paid less than their male counterparts despite having similar qualifications.

In the agricultural field, for example, women in 1998/1999 were paid a daily wage of about Rp 6,998 compared to men who received Rp 8,130.

For university graduates, women were also on average paid less at Rp 573,200 per month compared to men who received Rp 769,600.

According to Sri Harijati Harmadji, Deputy Minister for Women's Empowerment with special responsibility for program and policy development, men are still seen as the head of the family and breadwinners.

"Therefore, many still pay male employees more than women. In many companies, women are always considered as being single so they don't receive extra allowances," she said.(hdn)