The Indonesian government has implemented a 30% quota system for legislative institutions since the 2004 General Elections as mandated in Article 65 of Law No. 12/2003 and revised in Law No. 8/2012 concerning General Elections. However, the results of the 2014 General Election showed that the representation of women in parliament was only 17%. On the other hand, the Election Law stipulates that the legislative nomination mechanism for women candidates is regulated by political parties, stipulating that each political party is obliged to fulfill a 30% quota for women legislative candidates. Thus, political parties themselves play an important role in increasing women's representation. However, the challenge faced by political parties is developing a strategy to support female party members to get more seats in parliament heading towards the 2019 General Elections.
The Women Research Institute (WRI) conducted a Joint Research project with the Korean Women's Development Institute (KWDI) in 2016 called "Indonesian Women’s Political Representation: Affirmative Action Policies for Political Parties Approaching the 2019 Elections”. In this study, WRI intended to conduct an analysis of the causes of the decrease in the percentage of women's representation (to 17%) in the 2014 General Election, despite the adoption and amendment of the General Election Law governing the quota system for women. This research identified the issue of women's political representation in national parliaments by analyzing the challenges and opportunities for female party members in their respective political parties, as well as developing internal policy recommendations for political parties regarding affirmative action policies to increase women's representation.
The results of this research showed that there were several factors that were suspected to be the cause of the decrease in the number of women represented at the parliamentary level in the 2014 General Election. By conducting a literature study on several laws and regulations relating to Elections and Political Parties, as well as a study of internal regulations and the implementation of affirmative action policies in each political party, this his study concluded that the challenges faced by cadres and candidates for female legislative members are of twofold. The first challenge is internal party challenges (e.g. party ideology, lack of female party members occupying strategic positions, and lack of priority towards increasing the capacity and quantity of female legislative candidates). The second challenge is an external challenge, that is the proportional political system open to the Legislative Election which have difficult environments for female candidates, examples of which include the massive culture of money politics and patriarchy in society, the lack of support from election management institutions, and the affirmative action policies which are still not strong enough.
Apart from the above analysis which has made every effort to be comprehensive, especially from the viewpoint of political parties, this research still has not examined the role of the election management institutions, in this case the KPU and Bawaslu, in supporting women’s representation in parliament. This is a topic that will need to be explored further in future studies because, the role of these two institutions is very central in determining the implementation of gender-sensitive elections as well as to realize a better political participation of Indonesian women.
From this research, several recommendations that could be applied by political parties and policy makers in creating affirmative policies and actions that are more support women's representation include:
- Political parties need to prepare themselves from the beginning to be able prioritise supporting quality female candidates. The party should map out potential cadres from the beginning and not just before the legislative elections, just to meet quotas.
- Quality female candidates must also be placed in key positions of the daily management of the party. Important interventions towards gender equality must start from within the party. In addition, there needs to be a revitalization of policies within the party (both from AD / ART, operational guidelines, or technical guidelines) to respond to affirmative policies.
- Parties need to provide special selection processes, periodic upgrading and capacity building, as well as special assistance for female cadres and candidates, so that female candidates, including candidates who have just entered political parties, can have professional capacity during their nomination and future term.
- In the training given to cadres and candidates, gender training should be included so that the cadres and candidates can better understand the importance of women's representation, not only for women themselves, but for all parties, including political parties.
- To address the financial constraints that are often experienced by women, it is necessary to provide funding assistance to candidates, especially female candidates. Financial assistance not only in the form of campaign attributes but also in the form of witness funding (in Indonesia candidates pay people to act as witnesses at polling booths) and financial assistance. In addition, there should be a restriction on the amount of campaign funds for all candidates.
- Political parties need to provide assistance and show partiality to female candidates who experience difficulties in the electoral process, for example the case of vote theft and voter fraud.
- There needs to be a review of the current electoral system based on a proportional open system, as well as considerations of financial assistance provided from the state to political parties.
- The role of political parties is very central to ensuring that female legislators (aleg) from parties have trained sufficiently and have capacity building training on a regular basis after becoming aleg. Aside from this, political parties must also have political commitment to place women in strategic positions, both in commissions, factions and supplementary bodies, so that women can be more active and involved in formulating policies that are in line with women's interests.
- On the other hand, women legislators also need to collaborate with each other in order to be able to fight for policies that are more pro-gender, especially in the context of the political system in Legislative Elections.
The research paper can be downloaded via: Indonesian Women's Political Representation: Affirmative Action Policy of Political Parties for the Upcoming 2019 Election