Men in Womens Representation

The gender quotas of 30% for women group as a requirement for election participation in the 2014 legislative election has been properly implemented by the Election Commission (KPU), despite the fact that gender inequality is still a problem within the composition of the KPU members itself. During the period of 2004-2009, the rate of women representation in the Parliament is only 12% of total Parliamentary members, but they were able to produce gender-progressive regulations compared to Parliamentary members from the period of 2009-2014 and 2014-2019 where the rate of women representation is almost 20%. Therefore, it is important for women movement to start considering the engagement of male activists in their effort to establish gender equality in Indonesian Parliament.

Hadar Nafis Gumay is one of a few male public figure with proper gender perspective. As a member of KPU, Hadar and his colleague Ida Budhiati successfully convince other KPU members to disqualify the participation of political parties which fail to conform with the 30% gender quota.

“There are seven members of KPU, and only one of them is female. However, if all six male members have proper gender perspective, it would provide a great deal of help for the gender equality initiative,” says the Executive Director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), Titi Anggraini (09/02).

KPU members for the period of 2012-2017, which the female member is only 14% of the total members, are able to ensure the implementation of the 30% gender quota for the legislative election of 2014. The KPU Regulations (PKPU) No. 3/2013 strictly prohibits any participation from political party which does not conform with the said quota. The fact that the quota regulation was adopted to PKPU adds legal certainty to the regulation. Previously, the regulation, which contained in the Law No.8/2012, tend to be ignored and there was no legal consequence for violator.

After adopted to the PKPU, all parties in the 2014 election obeyed the regulation and KPU start disqualifying any party that does not conform with the rule. For example, the Unity Development Party (PPP) is prohibited to participate in the 2014 local legislative election in West Sumatera because they did not conform with the 30% quota for female candidates.

Previously, even though the percentage of elected female candidates in 2004 legislative election was only 11%, the majority of 89% of male parliament members had produced many progressive laws that enhance gender equality in Indonesia. To mention a few: Law No.23/2004 on the Elimination of Domestic Violences, Law No.21/2007 on the Eradication of Human Trafficking, Law No.13/2006 on Protection for Crime Witnesses and Victims, and Law No.42/2008 on Legislative Elections.

The Coordinator of the Special Committee for the Law No.21/2007 on Human Trafficking, Latifah Iskandar, said, female legislators for the term of 2004-2009, who were working as activists, were able to convince male legislators and party elites to support those laws. According to the female politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN), the election system used in the 2004 legislative election played a significant role in affecting the quality of the elected female candidates. In the 2004 legislative election, the basis for female candidates recruitment was meritocracy.

“The majority of parliament members, both male and female members, supported the Human Trafficking Law, even though the meeting and hearing sessions for the law were dominated by the female members,” said Latifah (09/09).

Acknowledging the role and contribution of male politicians and activists in the production of progressive laws is important since it is rather difficult to achieve the ideal number of elected female politicians. In Indonesia, there is already a commitment for 50-50 proportion of gender equality, but the percentage of female parliament members is only 18%. The misguided obsession to fulfill the 30% quota has rendered political parties to endorse incompetent female candidates that come from political dynasty, party elites, or entertainment industry.

The Executive Director of the Center for Political Studies (Puskapol) of University of Indonesia, Sri Budi Eko Wardhani, admits that there is currently a paradox in women candidacy. The number of elected female politicians is increasing, but the number of gender-progressive laws produce by those politicians is decreasing.

“The party elites only use female politicians as tools,” says Dani (09/02).

Ani Soetjipto in “The Politics of Hope” argues that election system plays a significant role in the dynamics of women representation in politics. The election system in 2004 legislative election encouraged a consolidated women movement to produce a recommendation for party elites regarding which competent woman activists should be registered as election candidates. As the result, the elected female candidates had successfully maintain the solidity of women movement and influence other male politicians to support the execution of gender-progressive laws. Such success has been failed to be replicated in the 2009-2014 elections because the election system encourages individual competition.

From Cultural to Structural

The idea of male activists supporting gender equality is not a novel idea. At the cultural level, male involvement in women activism has already been conducive. There are many women civil society organizations that recruit male members as activists. There are also abundant number of writings or publications from male scholars to support the idea of gender equality.

Jurnal Perempuan (Women Journal) Issue XII/November-December 1999 has already raised this issue. In addition to articles written by feminist activists on the positive aspects of male involvement, there are also articles written by male scholars. Frans Magnis Suseno provide a convincing argument that, theologically, women are allowed to be imam or religious leader. The Chairman of Indonesian Physician Association, Agus Purwadianto, explains the medical possibility for men to be feminists. There is also an anonymous male who says that the cranky stereotype of feminists can be dispelled by involving male activists.

In 2000, the Women Journal Foundation, Philosophy Community of University of Indonesia, and Unifem, declared “Cantik” (Dudes for Anti-Violence Movement) to celebrate Anti-Violence against Women Day (November 25). This campaign was subsequently followed by the publication of essays anthology from male scholars who support gender equality movement titled “Male Feminists: Solution or A New Problem?”. In it, there are essays written by prominent activists and scholars such as Wahyu Susilo, Nur Iman Subono, Rocky Gerung, Veven Sp. Wardhana, Donny Gahral Adian, Haryatmoko, Kris Budiman, and Ivan Hadar.

It has been a decade since the New Male Alliance is formed. Women Journal Foundation introduced the movement to public in 2010 and in 2014 was supported by the National Commission for Women and many women organizations such as Pulih Foundation. Many feminist activists agree that it is important to involve male activists in order to achieve a more free and equal society. []

USEP HASAN SADIKIN