Mon, 15 Aug 1994

Women's emancipation in RI may be on the wrong track

JAKARTA (JP): Women's emancipation in Indonesia may be on the wrong track as it is giving greater emphasis to women's participation as workers rather than access to the decision- making process, according to an activist.

"Women's roles are now being enhanced in terms of burden or quantity, and not in terms of access to the fruits of development," Titi Sumbung, director of the Melati Foundation, said during a seminar on human resources development on Saturday.

"This is because women in general are being given the role as executors, and only a few of them are involved in the decision making process or in the planning stages of development programs either at government level or in the legislative body," she said in the seminar which was organized by associations of intellectuals from various religions.

Titi said that despite the major inroads Indonesia has made in terms of promoting the status of women through education, the United States-based Population Crisis Committee still puts Indonesia in the "very poor" category in terms of its women's conditions along with 17 other countries such as Bangladesh, Mali and Afghanistan.

Even the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are ranked above Indonesia, she said.


The committee reaches its conclusion based on various indicators such as women's health, the post natal mortality rate, women's life expectancy, young marriages, fertility, education and social equality.

"Looking at the condition of our women as suggested by the study, we still have to work hard to achieve the goal of equal partnership between men and women," Titi said.

She said the Constitution and the law have already recognized equal rights between women and men, but what is still lacking is women's involvement in the decision making process.

She presented a whole list of statistics about women's involvement in Indonesian politics, which point to an increase, albeit at a very slow pace.

In 1955, 60 percent of adult women voted in an election. By 1987, this had increased to 90 percent.

In 1971, there were 31 out of 460 members of House of Representatives which were women, or six percent. In 1987, there were 57 out of 500, representing 12 percent of the total. This, she pointed out, is still better than the world's average of 9.7 percent.

There are two women in the 39-member Supreme Advisory Council, seven women justices among the 56 members of the Supreme Court, and six women out of 302 officers of the Supreme Audit Agency.

In the country's political parties, a lone woman serves in the 17-member central executive board of the PPP, two in the 20- member board of PDI and five of Golkar's 45-strong board.

Women make up about a third of the civil servants, but most of them are bunched in the low ranks.

A total of 1,174 women are in the first, second and third echelons of the civil service, representing only 6.5 percent of all the existing positions, she said. (emb/rms)