For the past three years the Royal Norwegian Embassy has been funding “Increasing Women’s Political Participation and Strengthening Good Governance” a program implemented by The Asia Foundation. The Foundation concludes that the program has contributed significantly to enhance women representation in Indonesia’s Parliament. Women now account for 18 percent of national legislators, holding 101 seats in the current National Parliament 2009 – 2014, as compared to 11 percent in the previous Parliament.
Women in Indonesia have long been under-represented in national and regional legislative positions. By improving legislation to promote affirmative action among female candidates and supporting women to efficiently manage their election campaigns, The Asia Foundation states that the program has enabled the increase of female representation on national, provincial and district levels. An advocacy campaign initiated in the first year of the program contributed to the introduction of a 30 percent quota for women in the Election Law. Political parties are now required to adopt the “zipper” system which mandates that one in every three candidates listed on a party ballot be a woman.
Prior to the election, the implementing partners of the Program identified 966 women candidates, both activists from political parties and civil society, from the provinces of Aceh, South Sulawesi, East Java and Jakarta. Nearly 500 of these have received training on how to run a successful political campaign. In the subsequent national elections 2009, 35 percent of candidates for National Parliament were women. After the election the program focused on supporting newly elected women by facilitating networks and strengthening their capacity. In the third, and final, year the program mobilized support for female politicians through media advocacy and facilitated meetings between women politicians, political parties and civil society.
The Asia Foundation has over fifty years of experience in Asia and partners with both civil society and government to support initiatives aimed at enhancing the situation for women. The Asia Foundation and the Royal Norwegian Embassy are in the process of extending the partnership for an additional three years with the project Increased Women’s Political Participation: Making a difference. The new project aims at making significant contributions to increasing the capacity of women legislators, increasing the gender sensitivity of laws passed by the 2009-2014 Parliament and strengthening the relationship between women legislators and their constituents.