This edition of the AFIRMASI (Affirmation) Journal summarizes the conditions and positions of women’s participation in the political sphere in Indonesia, particularly in formal politics. The term of affirmative action, for instance, despite being used in the national policy level through a target quota of 30% for women (Law on Elections 2003) as one of the political success for women’s movements, is still in fact a difficult rule to be implemented by political parties as regulations in their own institutions.
A similar concern has also become an obsession for a female politician, Lena Maryana Mukti, who was interviewed for this journal. Lena has tirelessly worked to encourage political parties to place their best women in key positions within the management as well as representatives in the parliament.
As a focus in this journal is an article on the quota and zipper systems written by Aisah Putri Budiatri, which introduces a number of relevant basic definitions to analyze women’s participation in politics. Why is the affirmative action needed as an effort to accelerate the increase of female legislative members in the process of candidacy? Is the quota system adequate to push political parties to place their female candidates on smaller ordinal numbers in order to maximize their chances for a seat in the legislation? These questions triggered a study on the quota system, its basic questions, examples of its implementation as well as its strengths and weaknesses.
Apart from the Focus chapter, two more essays in the Essay chapter also relate to the disparity of gender relations in the political arena. Chusnul Mar’iyah completed the review on quota by comparing the experiences of DPR-RI and Argentina’s parliament. Meanwhile, Kevin Arnas carefully uncovered the weaknesses of the quota system in the list of candidates by comparing it with the system used in the candidacy of DPR-RI members, which uses no special mechanism to increase the number of women who will be voted for. Another article in Essay is on the Minahasa culture, written by Erni Agustini, who attempted to show that, culturally, Minahasa women are used to play a role in the public sphere.
The 30% quota women essentially provides a special opportunity for women to enter the political world, referring to the concept of social and cultural disparity between women and men as political subjects, which is proven by the low representation or the representation of interests in the political life. This disparity in the struggle of interests within the political arena is handled with an affirmative act. An affirmative act is a structural intervention which should be carried out as an emergency action to improve existing disparity in a short time. Therefore, its implementation should be followed by the determination of period and supervision to observe the progress that has been achieved. If a relatively same starting point between female and male political subjects has been achieved, then such regulation should be revoked. The 30% quota as a structural provision for the mechanism of increasing women’s participation in the political arena will only work effectively if followed by work on the social and cultural aspects to prepare women to fill the open opportunities.
Various papers that are compiled in the Study chapter presents a variation and uniqueness of local social and cultural contexts in Aceh, Pontianak, Mataram, and Surakarta; as well as their influence to the implementation of women’s competence in legislations. Aris Arif Mundayat and Siany Indria Liestyasari presented the legislative experiences of female legislative candidates that had to wait for their husbands’ full permission before deciding their candidacy. If the permission is not received, then the only option left is to cancel their candidacy. This is rigid and cannot be violated; despite the formal regulations that support them.
Aisah Putri Budiatri analyzed Pontianak through a story of a female cadre in a political party, whom her male party high officials consider as far more loyal, active, and capable in her social capital, therefore for more beneficial in recruiting constituents for the party compared to male cadres. However, her “functional position” still has no effect on her structural position within the party’s management. The extent of the impact is to her chances in the ordinal number of the legislative candidates proposed by the party. In her paper, Erni Agustini wrote about Aceh’s experiences in organizing the 2009 General Elections that recorded the birth of an Acehnese female political party, Alliance of Aceh’s People for Women Party (PARA). PARA failed to pass the verification of parties in the 2009 Election. This paper seeks to study the causes of this failure and the probability of the gender issue.
Ika Wahyu Priaryani’s study presented the experiences of numerous female activists in Mataram. Their large number is comparable to the Non-governmental Organizations that have mushroomed since the 1980s, and whose energy is used more often for social political issues which often victimize women, such as female labors, a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), and poverty in general, so that opportunities for political activities providing opportunities to seize power are often missed. Their activities are clearly within the political dimension, but within the conventional boundaries of a political scope, excluding the working area of formal political parties. It is clear that the terminologies and scope of politics are very gender-biased, dominated by the patriarchal authority.
It is also through the gender lenses that the masculine culture is put under scrutiny. The essay entitled “Representation of Female Legislative Members: Ratification of the Culture of Masculinism” which analyzes the display of female legislative members’ campaign by asking readers to observe that gender does not only uphold certain rules of behavior but also regulates the structure and institutionalization of the public’s social management. The masculine culture is not only in party politics but also from in organizations and institutions to the state, including its regulations and governance.
If women activists attempt to eliminate discrimination with a particular target of decision-making parliament members only by following the main flow of politics, then they will not experience the real field of action, which is open for feminist struggles in the midst of political struggles against all forms of domination. Indeed, knowledge also needs a revolution.***
Afirmasi Journal Vol. 1
Researchers: Aisah Putri Budiatri, Aris Arif Mundayat, Chusnul Mar’iyah, Edriana Noerdin, Erni Agustini, Ika Wahyu Priaryani, Kevin Evans, Myra Diarsi, Sita Aripurnami dan Siany Indria L.
Editors: Edriana Noerdin, Myra Diarsi, Sekar Pireno KS dan Sita Aripurnami
Publisher: Women Research Institute, 2011
Pages: iv +155 pages
Price: Rp. 75.000,-