27 July 2007


27 July 2007
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Elimination of

Discrimination against Women

Chamber A, 799th & 800th Meetings (AM & PM)



State Minister for Women Empowerment Describes Significant Achievements,

Although Initiatives Aimed at Gender Equality Represent Work in Progress

Acknowledging the serious challenges posed to women by trafficking, migration and unequal implementation of law in a country undergoing tremendous political change in its push to decentralize, Indonesia’s delegation described efforts to address those obstacles, and change discriminatory cultural stereotypes -- particularly in the local application of sharia law -- as it addressed the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Committee today.

Introducing its combined fourth and fifth periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, State Minister for Women Empowerment Meutia Farida Hatta Swasono said Indonesia’s multi-ethnic, multilingual population of 220 million was spread over more than 17,000 islands.  Some 87 per cent of the population was Muslim.  Following the fall of the Suharto regime, Indonesia had begun transforming itself into a State based on democracy, economic rehabilitation, respect for human rights and decentralization.  In that context, Megawati Soekarnoputri had become the first female President.

Significant achievements had been made, she explained, particularly in the combat of human trafficking.  The Act on the Elimination of People Trafficking - law number 21 developed this year -- afforded protection to victims of all ages, while the Second National Action Plan on Human Rights facilitated preparations for the ratification of the Convention for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, and the Optional Protocol to the Women’s Convention.

Stressing that gender mainstreaming was essential for women’s empowerment and gender equality, she added that Indonesia was drafting a National Action Plan on Gender Mainstreaming.  Once approved, it would offer guidelines on implementation throughout the country.  Under a presidential instruction on gender mainstreaming in national development, there were 29 gender-mainstreaming working groups at the national level and 30 women’s bureaus at the provincial levels.

Experts, while appreciating the changes introduced to the law to enable women to exercise their rights more broadly, still looked for more, asking what forceful measures could be undertaken to correct inadequacies.  They repeatedly posed questions about whether the Convention had been integrated into the legal framework, and why laws -- particularly relating to family, marriage and gender mainstreaming -- were poorly applied, not enforced or only in draft form.

One expert said that some 800 local by-laws had been rescinded and wondered why the central Government was not taking more stringent action to prevent local government from enacting legislation that might violate women’s rights.

On employment, another expert noted that, despite all the employment regulations and ratification of International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, implementation was extremely poor.  Women in the informal sector lacked formal labour and social protection, she said, stressing that, if policy planners did not recognize the informal labour force, they would not be able to design effective policies.

Experts also pressed the delegation to decouple the issues of migration and trafficking.  They were separate issues, one expert explained and, referring to migration, stressed that plans be developed for managing standards, statistics and remittances.  One noted that migrant workers had to pay a “protection fee” upon departing Indonesia for work abroad.  She wondered whether those funds had been used to protect migrant workers.

Ms. Swasono said, in closing, that all key initiatives to bring about women’s empowerment and gender equality in the “new Indonesia” represented work in progress, and she told experts that much remained to be done to achieve an ideal situation.  Conditions must be created to consistently facilitate women’s progress.  Inadequate implementation of adopted laws, policies and programmes hampered steady progress in Indonesia.  As to whether there was room for strong action, she said “yes, there was room for such action”.

Chamber A of the Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 31 July, to begin consideration of Hungary’s sixth periodic report.


The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, met this morning to consider the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Indonesia (document CEDAW/C/IDN/4-5).

Presentation of Report

Presenting the report, the State Minister for Women Empowerment, MEUTIA FARIDA HATTA SWASONO, introduced the members of the delegation: Adiyatwidi Adiwoso Asmady, Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations; Ms. Setiawati, Deputy Minister for the Enhancement of the Quality of Women’s Life, Ministry of Women Empowerment; Suryadi Soeparman, Deputy Minister for Gender Mainstreaming, Ministry of Women Empowerment; Nasaruddin Umar, Director-General for Community Empowerment, Ministry of Religion Affairs; Nina Sardjunani, Deputy for Human Resource and Cultural Affairs, National Development Planning Agency; Lalu Sudarmadi, Deputy Minister for Family Welfare and Empowerment, National Coordinating Agency for Family Planning; Ms. Harniati, Secretary of Human Resource Development Board, Ministry of Agriculture; Musdah Mulia, Special Adviser to the Minister of Religion, Ministry of Religion Affairs; Sri Danti, Deputy Assistant for Women’s Education, State Ministry of Women Empowerment; Sri Handayangingsih, Director for Labour Placement, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration; and Sri Hermiyanti, Director for Mother’s Health, Ministry of Health.

Also in the delegation were Dr. Soejarwo, Director for Community Education, Ministry of Education; Agung Mulyana, Director for Political Culture Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ade Petranto, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations; Dicky Komar, Foreign Affairs Ministry; Ms. Roostiawati, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration; Trisnawati Go. Loho, Ministry of Health; Tessalina Dwiayunu Saraswati, State Ministry of Women Empowerment; Rita Kalibonso, Women Partnership; Asna Husin, NGO Aceh; Sita Aripumami, Women Research Institute; and Bonanza P. Taihitu, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.

Ms. HATTA SWASONO, explaining that the delay in submitting Indonesia’s periodic report was partly attributable to taking into account the Committee’s concluding comments, said the drafting process, which had taken place between 2000 and 2003, had included participation from Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, Members of Parliament and religious leaders, among others.

Respect for women’s rights had been a Government priority, she emphasized, which was reflected in the fact that women’s issues had been integrated into the country’s development programmes.  Other progressive steps had been taken since the combined report, which covered the 1995-2003 period, as the situation of women in Indonesia was a highly dynamic phenomenon.

Indonesia’s multi-ethnic, multilingual population of 220 million was spread over more than 17,000 islands, she said, noting that 87 per cent of the population was Muslim.  Following the fall of the Suharto regime, Indonesia had begun transforming itself into a State based on democracy, economic rehabilitation, respect for human rights and decentralization.  In that context, Megawati Soekarnoputri had become the first female President.

Against that backdrop, achievements had been made, she explained.  To address violence against women, law number 23 of 2004 specified the definition of violence and had been created to both promote human rights and achieve gender equality.  The Protection of Witnesses and Victims Act also had been passed. Moreover, the Health Act was being amended to ensure inclusion of women’s reproductive health and rights, while the Population Act had been amended to guarantee the availability of birth certificates to poor families.

That particular measure would help curb identity fraud involved in human trafficking, she explained, as 77 per cent of the 2.1 million Indonesian migrant workers abroad were women.  The Child Protection Act provided 3 to 15 year prison sentences for child traffickers, while the elimination of people trafficking law protected all victims.  Also in response to those situations, the Second National Action Plan on Human Rights facilitated preparations for the ratification, among others, of the Convention for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, and the Optional Protocol to the Women’s Convention.

She said a special agency had been established to monitor movement of migrant workers abroad and, in 2006, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants had visited Indonesia, recommending improvement in the monitoring of the recruitment of such workers.  In that context, Indonesia had established a Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia, Jordan and Hong Kong, to ensure protection of women migrant workers in those receiving countries.

On marriage, she added that various stakeholders had collaborated to review the outdated law of marriage. Also, women and children centres were operating in 17 provinces, and the Government had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights.

Gender mainstreaming was essential for women’s empowerment and gender equality, she explained, and Indonesia was drafting a national action plan on gender mainstreaming.  Once approved, it would offer guidelines on implementation throughout the country.

She said that, under a presidential instruction on gender mainstreaming in national development, there were 29 gender-mainstreaming working groups at the national level and 30 women’s bureaus at the provincial levels.  The Government had also worked with civil society organizations and United Nations agencies to enact legislation that was free of gender bias and removed barriers to women’s involvement in public life.

Regarding health, the First Lady had launched the Mother Friendly Movement in April to reduce maternal and infant mortality, she added.  On the economic front, a forum consisting of Government agencies, banks and women entrepreneurs had been established to increase women’s access to loans.  To enhance women’s political roles, various programmes were being carried out to encourage political parties to abandon discriminatory practices and ensure women’s access to executive positions.  The President had also called for an open electoral system based on proportional representation.  Since 2006, the State Ministry for Women Empowerment had provided funds for provincial and district government to implement gender-sensitive policies.

Among Indonesia’s challenges, she said the new laws adopted to assist women were not being rigorously enforced or implemented, and a lack of understanding of existing law among planners had undermined implementation.  To remedy that situation, she called for widespread gender sensitization among officials.

Also, she said, attention must be paid to the changing male mindsets.  Because of the decentralization process, local governments today had the authority to prioritize development policies and, as a result, there was no uniform pace of implementation based on central Government directives.  That was most evident in the growing number of areas where sharia law was being applied in a fashion that discriminated against women.

Finally, she stressed that natural disasters had taken a heavy toll on women, as a growing number were struggling to survive and not in a position to increase achievement of their rights.

Nonetheless, the country was committed to adopting measures to accelerate the Convention’s implementation, she explained. Interaction with the international community would need to involve two-way exchanges, and the country was open to sharing with others.  In 2005, the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta had held a workshop on the role of women and youth in building cooperation between the two continents and invited leaders to develop a new Asia-Africa strategic partnership.

She stressed that Indonesia would continue to engage in advocacy among decision-makers in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of Government, and would infuse State planning agencies, religious organizations and private sector bodies with a greater awareness of gender issues.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

MARY SHANTHI DAIRIAM, Rapporteur and expert from Malaysia, noted that, during the reporting period, Indonesia had gone through tremendous changes.  On the status of the Convention and the domestic legal order of Indonesia, in the review of the Government in 1998, there had been a discussion with the Committee that the Convention was recognized as part of the domestic legal order, but she was still unclear as to what that meant.  Indonesia had ratified the treaty in 1984, 23 years ago, and she sought an explanation as to what steps had been taken to integrate it into the domestic legal order since then.

For example, she asked, could the Convention’s standards override any discriminatory provisions in domestic law?  Did the Constitution make provision to guide the legal system if there was a conflict between the Convention and domestic law?  There were still discriminatory provisions in the law -- in fact, 21 laws still discriminated against women -- so what steps had been taken to integrate the treaty?

If the Convention was not “self-executing”, or its principles could not be automatically applied, what plans did the Government have to do so or to eliminate discrimination against women? she asked.  Was enabling legislation needed to translate the Convention into domestic law, and were there any plans to do so?  Also, with the latest amendments to the Constitution, the right to equality and human rights were protected, but how was the Constitution automatically actionable?  Was it possible for women to claim their right to equality?  Were any such cases pending, at least under the Constitution?

She said she had heard about the process of decentralization and the difficulties arising from that, especially in terms of the protection of women’s rights, and that sharia had been applied in a way that discriminated against women in such provinces as Aceh.  Was there more that could be done that was more forceful than raising awareness among local decision-makers?  She had information that at least 800 local by-laws had been rescinded, so why was the central Government not taking more stringent action to prevent local government from enacting local legislation that might be in violation of women’s rights?

FERDOUS ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, noted that Indonesia had signed the Optional Protocol, but had not yet ratified it.  The country was making significant progress in implementing the Convention, and it was her sincere expectation that, following the constructive dialogue with the Committee, Indonesia would consider ratifying the Protocol.  Also, Indonesia had not approved article 20.1 regarding extending the Committee’s meeting time to deal with the backlog of reports, and she hoped it would do so.

Given the 21 discriminatory laws in Indonesia, she stressed that those needed to be reviewed and amended without delay, especially those concerning marriage and polygamy, and the ones that stated that women had a domestic role and men had a public role.  On health, the law stated that wives needed their husbands’ consent regarding sterilization or abortion.  At least 25 local regulations were also highly discriminatory against women and inconsistent with the Convention.  The Government should take affirmative action to revoke those.

She asked about the Government’s intention with regard to eradication of stereotypes linked to deeply rooted religious traditions that dictated dress code and prohibited women to work at night without the family’s consent.  The Committee had heard this morning that there were various progressive laws, but, owing to a deficient machinery, women did not understand them and many could not be implemented.  As for gender mainstreaming in all Government agencies, budgetary allocation and the 30 per cent quotas for women were exceptionally good policies, but, alone, they could not generate the necessary changes.

HEISOO SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, saying the delegation was the largest she had ever encountered in her seven years on the Committee, was very encouraged that Indonesia was moving towards reform in the right direction.  Ratifying the Optional Protocol was very important in guaranteeing women another tool.  She asked how the central Government ensured that local government did not override the principle of gender equality.  She had received information that, in some parts of the country, there had been a resurgence of fundamentalism, and the dress code was enforced by sharia police.  If women did not comply, they were refused basic services.  How did the Government ensure that that kind of thing did not happen?  How did the central Government exercise its authority over local government for the implementation of its gender policies?

She also asked about the Population Act and the registration of babies, which, she heard, was imposing additional discriminatory practices on women.  Regarding the tsunami victims, she had information that, in the camps, there were still women who had not been provided with emergency needs in terms of underwear, veils, sanitary napkins and so forth.  Also, sexual violence still occurred against them.  Was there a complaints centre for women?  She also had information that permanent housing aid that was now being implemented involved illegal payments to officials, so that, if women could not pay because their husbands had died in the tsunami, they did not receive a house, while the people who could pay were receiving five or more houses.  How was that being monitored?

FRANÇOISE GASPARD, Vice-Chairperson and expert from France, said that, given the size of Indonesia and its challenges, it was a good idea if the women’s machinery was reinforced, both in terms of financial and human resources.  Also, on decentralization, which was intended to strengthen democracy and improve governance, there could be a kind of backlash.  Resources should be provided to the local territories, and the Constitution of the State and its basic laws must be respected, particularly in the area of human rights.

She said that, in a number of territorial entities in Indonesia, since decentralization had begun, there had been a kind of “back-stepping” from ensuring women’s rights.  What powers did women have in civil affairs and what could the State do to ensure that the Constitution and basic laws were not violated?  What measures could the State take to ensure that, on the ground throughout the entire country, there was implementation of the Convention?  She noted as positive developments a number of laws and programmes, but it was critical that women throughout Indonesia benefited from them.

VIOLETA NEUBAUER, expert from Slovenia, noted that the Ministry, the central mechanism for women’s empowerment, was responsible for the promotion of gender mainstreaming, for the provision of support for the use of that strategy at all levels and that it also had a coordinating role and one of advocacy and monitoring of women’s empowerment programmes in all ministries and Government institutions.  However, the Ministry did not have a mandate to implement programmes and plans.  She regretted that there was no clear task allocated to the Ministry in that regard.  It was difficult to find another Government department willing to take on that responsibility.  Thus, she encouraged the Government, when any revision of the Ministry was considered, to add that additional role.  Even the tasks assigned to it required sufficient resources and logistical and other support.  She did not have clear information on who did what within the machinery or on the quality of the relationships.

Delegation’s Response

Regarding the Convention’s status, a delegation member said the Convention had been ratified in 1984.  In the last 10 years, Indonesia had worked to execute it in the legal domain.  The Convention contained several articles related to the rights of women in politics that had been placed the national plan.  Also, Indonesia was in the process of amending existing law that did not recognize the reproductive health of women.  A chapter on reproductive health and protecting women’s rights was being added.

Another member explained that sharia law in Indonesia was not threatening to women working outside the home.  Sharia law in the country was not practiced in a fundamentalist manner, as practised by the Taliban or in some Middle Eastern countries.  For example, it was not compulsory to wear a veil in Indonesia and many women chose not to wear one.  The practice was different in Aceh province.  Sharia in Indonesia also did not stipulate cutting the hands of those who had stolen, or executing women who committed adultery.

It was important to distinguish between what was considered Arab practice and Muslim practice, he continued.  Also, Indonesia did not practice female circumcision, as it was not a Muslim practice.

Turning to coordination with local governments, one member explained the Ministry of Women Empowerment coordinated with each of the 33 provinces, especially with the Vice Governor.  The Ministry coordinated advocacy efforts, monitored progress and gave financial support to the provinces to help implement central Government policies.  Among coordinating activities, Governors, members of provincial planning bureaus and the Ministry of Women Empowerment had attended an annual coordination meeting to discuss the current activities and next fiscal year.

Another member explained that 5 per cent of total budget of each sector must be set aside for gender-mainstreaming efforts.

On the issue of birth certificates, one delegate noted that they were free of charge, as were family planning services.  This year, law number 10 on population would be amended to reflect the interests of the poor and the Government’s responsibility to them in that area.

Another delegate said that law number 32 of 2004 on the regional government should be used as a basis for drafting local regulations.  Basic principles should be followed, especially in the respect for equality before the law, nationality, family unity and non-obstruction of higher-level law.  Only Aceh province could issue local regulations on the implementation of sharia law for performing daily Islamic values.  Other provinces must follow national law and a Ministry of Internal Affairs 2006 document was applicable in that regard, he said, noting that the central Government could override provincial pronouncements.

Turning to the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction policy of 2006, another member said implementation was done through socialization and dissemination of information to integrate a gender perspective into programmes.  Law number 24 of 2007 on natural disaster management stipulated that protection should be extended to those most at risk, including breast-feeding women, children under the age of 5 and the elderly.  Also, a special programme to build women and children centres was underway, and three trauma centres had been established.

In the agriculture sector, in 2006, an effort to reach out to farmers’ group leaders had been established, as 80 per cent of them were women, another delegate explained, noting that she had recently visited south Sumatra to hold week-long meetings with 300 female farmers who had complained that they were not receiving training.  She had relayed that feedback to the Minister of Agriculture and urged improvement.

Another delegate added that, despite some improvements by the Government, there were still some challenges.  For instance, there was the issue of financing to make the women’s empowerment mandate more effective.  The Government had already put in place some regulations, such as the allocation of 5 per cent of the local budget to ensure that women’s empowerment schemes were implemented in each territory.  However, in practice, there were still challenges in receiving that 5 per cent.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. NEUBAUER, expert from Slovenia, turning to the 30 per cent quota for women’s representation in the general elections, said it was an aggressive measure, but, if properly used, it was a potential tool to overcome underrepresentation of women in elected positions.  Were any similar measures being invoked, such as preferential treatment or minimum share quota systems?  Were any other steps envisaged in other areas of life to boost women’s participation in leadership and decision-making positions?  She also wanted to know if, when developing such measures, article 4.1 of the Convention and general recommendation 25 were fully taken into account, in order to clarify the scope of temporary special measures.

Ms. SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, on stereotypes and the persistence of cultural discrimination, acknowledged the Government’s recent efforts to combat discriminatory practices and traditions, but stressed the importance of implementing new laws and policies to counter the new forms of discriminatory “surges” taking place in Indonesia.  A sustained system of implementation was needed to fight the new phenomenon.  She had heard about a recent rise in fundamentalism.  When ignoring Government policies, the explanation was that they went against the sharia.  What was the Government doing about that?

Also, she asked whether female genital mutilation was forbidden by law?  She had also heard about a new phenomenon of “medicalization” of birth registration that included female genital mutilation, ear piercing and payment in a package to hospitals.  What was the Ministry of Women Empowerment doing to combat that violence against women?  She had also heard that the local development fund was being used to support beauty contests, which was “outrageous”.  The gender development policy needed to be constantly monitored.  Culture was not stable, but constantly changing, so whatever was done in the name of culture or religion was not static, and the Government should develop a system of vigilant monitoring.

According to the written report, noted SILVIA PIMENTEL, expert from Brazil, trafficking in women and children was an emerging issue in Indonesia.  An independent report said that there even existed a culture of selling daughters into prostitution, and that female children were considered property.  The Indonesian Government was making huge efforts, but they seemed insufficient.  Alternative sources said that implementation of rules and policies was still discriminatory, and that prostitutes were arrested by civil servants and punished by the courts, whereas the men who used those services were not arrested or punished.  She asked for information on the Government’s strategy to implement its law on trafficking and on plans to sensitize migrant worker agency personnel.  Also, were there specific plans and strategies to avoid the selling and trafficking of children, particularly the selling of daughters into prostitution? Were they effective if they existed?

Also on the anti-trafficking law of 2007, SAISUREE CHUTIKUL, expert from Thailand, asked if it had a clear definition of trafficking, specifically whether it followed the definition in the Palermo Protocol.  In that connection, was there any difficulty in identifying the victims of trafficking?  Were there any penalties for Government officials who neglected their duty, or a special clause on punishing officials involved in trafficking?  She did not see a reference to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 182 on child labour, which included trafficking and prostitution.  Was that used in Indonesia, at least as a reference, or did it fall under the delegation’s Ministry or the Labour Ministry?

She noted that there was a “master plan” for the elimination of trafficking in children from 2003 to 2007.  How was the plan coordinated and monitored?  What would happen next and what kind of evaluation was planned?  There had also been a mention of bilateral agreements with Kuwait, Jordan, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea -- what were the joint efforts to follow up those agreements?  What had happened after adoption of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Declaration?  There was a plan cited in the report about recovery, prevention, and reintegration, which was good, but could the delegation say more about prosecution?

GLENDA P. SIMMS, expert from Jamaica, noting that the delegation was comprised of powerful decision-makers, asked about trafficking.  She said Indonesia was conflating the issues of migration and trafficking.  They were separate issues, she explained, emphasizing that migration must be managed with standards and statistics, and a plan for managing remittances.  She wondered whether there were plans or organizations to support the families of migrant workers.

Trafficking in Indonesia was a horrendous practice, she continued, noting that many women had been “trafficked into prostitution”.  Some were working in industries outside the major cities, possibly including in the mining industry.  She asked about how many arrests had been made, and information on who was running tourist resorts.  When would exploiters be arrested?

Also, poverty reduction must focus on the poorest women in society, she said, or they would continue to be bartered.  Daughters were brought into prostitution because of extreme poverty, a terrible consequence of women living under patriarchy.  More statistics -- and more jail sentences -- were needed.  Culture and religion could not be used as reasons to give men privilege, she stressed.

Delegation’s Response

A delegation member, discussing sanctions, said that Indonesia was revising law number 12 of 2003 and the target of 30 per cent had already become “a must”.

Turning to trafficking, she said she agreed that migration and trafficking were separate issues.  Trafficking was a “death trap”, usually in the context of sexual exploitation.  Law number 21 of 2007 was attempting to abolish that practice, and provincial immigration officials found issuing false identification would be punished.  Traffickers would be captured and taken to court.  She also mentioned a one-stop service for migrant workers that helped women use their money efficiently.

Another delegation member mentioned regulation number 39 that had established a national body to care for migrant workers.  The new organization sat under the President and was administered by the Ministry of Manpower.

Regarding the Memorandums of Understanding, she said Indonesia had committed to creating working groups with Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Jordan.  With Jordan, Indonesia was renewing the Memorandum of Understanding to protect migrant workers and would sign it next month.  Senior officer meetings had been held with Kuwait.  She explained that Indonesia had also proposed hosting a meeting with all “sending countries” to establish a secretariat for migrant workers.

Another delegate said the Government was working with the Association of Indonesian Civil Servants on women’s empowerment activities in various sectors, stressing it also was important to work with non-governmental organizations to overcome problems.

Regarding trafficking, she said law number 21 was the result of various discussions among the Government, the police and non-governmental organizations.  Also, the law on pornography had been drafted, which focused on regulating the production, distribution and consumption of pornography.  It was also important to address how to protect children from pornographic material.

Again on trafficking, she mentioned a new national programme on community empowerment, which included women’s empowerment and would be integrated into a poverty reduction strategy.

Another delegate said local laws seemed to discriminate against women, but efforts had been made to review those laws, some of which prohibited women from working at night or restricted them from wearing clothing other than Muslim dress.  Efforts to work with local officials were under way and he hoped to eliminate such practices in due time.

Another delegate described efforts to integrate gender-mainstreaming into national education.  As the main problem was that some policy makers were not aware of the importance of gender mainstreaming in education, the Government held capacity-building sessions for officers, he explained.  Also, scholarships were given to poor girls in rural areas, and the “Reaching the Un-Reached” policy was aimed at children in rural or island areas who had no access to education.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. NEUBAUER, expert from Slovenia, said it was clear that participation of women in public and political life, particularly at the international level, remained very, very low.  Law number 12 did not achieve the aims for which it had been introduced.  She understood the intention to change the voluntary nature of the 30 per cent target of women among general election candidates.

On promoting the participation of women in decision-making, she asked about the Government’s intentions to fully implement articles 7 and 8 of the Convention.  There was no accurate data on the proportion of women in public service, or the number of female diplomats and ambassadors.  Citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ policy benefit for husbands and wives in the diplomatic service, she asked for clarification.  Was that policy benefit aimed at employees who were married and, then, upon being appointed, would be assigned to nearby countries?  That was not an efficient measure to promote women in the diplomatic service.

Finally, she wondered whether the Government intended to fully comply with the Convention, and recommendations 23 and 25.

TIZIANA MAIOLO, expert from Italy, congratulated the country on its social and political reforms, but said that the law on quotas had not been well implemented.  In addition, it did not provide for punishment for persons who did not comply.  There was also a problem in the political parties, and it was important to know the statutes, rules and relationships between men and women within the party structure.  Another problem was stereotyping within the political arena.  Did women tend to vote for other women in Indonesia?  Did women not have enough money to carry out electoral campaigns?  Should a large-scale media campaign be launched, as quotas themselves were not enough?

Ms. ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, asked if the amendment to the nationality law fully complied with the Convention’s article 9.  Could an Indonesian woman married to a foreigner transfer her nationality to her husband?  Also, children born of that marriage were now entitled to dual citizenship, and at age 18 could decide either way, whereas they previously had to assume their father’s nationality.  However, had the law been examined from the point of view of migrant women?  Indonesia had a huge migrant population of more than 3 million, of which 70 per cent were women.  She had information that even the amended nationality law was still highly discriminatory against migrant women, especially when confronted by domestic violence or trafficking, or situations of mail order brides and trafficking for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.

In addition, she said, article 23 of the act could also cause migrant women workers to lose their nationality, because of administrative procedures.  In many cases, their passports or identity cards were in the hands of their employers, thereby obstructing implementation of the law, and the administrative fee was prohibitive.  Was the Indonesian Government doing anything to implement the nationality law, and could it provide the Committee with additional background about the problems facing migrant women?  Also, were there Government strategies to solve the problems of migrant women and women domestic workers so that they did not lose their nationality?

Delegation’s Response

A member of the delegation said that there was already a proposal to revise the electoral law of 2003.  A woman had the right to vote and be elected.  She reviewed the numbers and percentages of women in the Executive Council.  In the judiciary, women comprised 24 per cent of the judges, which was still low, so efforts should be made to improve that.

Another delegate reviewed the number of women foreign services officials, which had increased tremendously in the past four years.  Now, two of three newly appointed foreign affairs officials were women.  By a new Foreign Ministry policy of 2005, women diplomats whose husbands were also diplomats now had the opportunity to be posted in neighbouring countries or join their husbands and await the next posting in a neighbouring country.  Formerly, a woman diplomat, when marrying a male diplomat, had to resign or take leave to join her husband.  Previously, only 1 per cent of candidates in the foreign service class were women, whereas now that figure stood at 51 per cent, so that was a huge increase. 

Another delegate explained that the law on mixed marriages still required three phases of implementation, but major progress had been made in the area of marriage.  The draft law on marriage was already finalized and would soon be submitted to Parliament.  Some provisions really benefited women.

On nationality issues, the Department of Manpower was working to implement the citizenship law recently adopted in Parliament, both locally and abroad, one delegate explained.  That legislation was new and Indonesia was still integrating it into the relevant sectors.

Regarding protection of female migrant workers and their families, he said a special directorate existed to empower migrant families and give them self-sustained economic opportunities.  On local government, the Ministry coordinated with local authorities in the area of data collection.  Also, the Ministry had created an information office in each of the 19 embassies to protect female migrant workers.  The Ministry was trying to increase the number of labour attaches in its embassies.

He explained that there was a letter from the Minister of Internal Affairs to revise any sharia law that caused discrimination.  Also, the Ministry had a mechanism that brought sharia up for judicial review in the Council for the Constitution.

Customary law existed in rural areas, another delegate said.  However, Indonesian legislation did not recognize local sharia law, and the Government’s position on local sharia law was clear. Local sharia law could not be used against national law.  Female circumcision was not addressed in local law, but did take place at the rural level.  Local sharia law called for women to wear Muslim clothing once a week, for example.  However, the number of Indonesian women wearing a veil was less than 10 per cent.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

NAELA MOHAMED GABR, Vice-Chairperson and expert from Egypt, reminded the delegation that Middle Eastern countries did not adopt the practices it had just described.

Ms. SIMMS, expert from Jamaica, asked about the education of girls.  Pre-primary and primary education seemed accessible by boys and girls.  What was interesting, she said, was that most female teachers were in those levels of education.  The higher the level, the fewer female teachers.  Why were no temporary special measures used to ensure that women could become principals of schools?  Women were not seen as leaders in Indonesia, which was affecting how women chose their careers.  In private schools, there were more male than female teachers, mainly because men received better pay in private schools than in non-private schools.  How would the Government ensure that women could access better pay? 

Once girls gained access to education, she explained, they performed better than boys, and Indonesian attitudes and traditions that perpetuated the belief that women could not run schools and companies must be changed.  “It is education not just for the sake of being literate,” she said, but “education for empowerment”.   Indonesia’s outcomes in that area were troublesome.  Also, discussing children in the inner cities, she said they were being left behind and something must be done to educate the poor.

Ms. CHUTIKUL, expert from Thailand, asked about sexual harassment and abuse by teachers and fellow students.  She suggested a study be done throughout the country to assess that phenomenon.  What regulations existed in the schools and how effective were they?  How was human rights education approached?  The “software” that went into children’s head was very important.

Further, she wondered about counselling services, particularly for girls who dropped out of schools.  That would provide an early-detection mechanism to prevent the trend.  On early child care, 28 per cent of children up to age 6 were cared for; but, many mothers were working in agriculture and manufacturing and needed help.

Ms. SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, asked how many women worked in the bureau that dealt with natural disasters.  What budget was allocated for the women’s protection directorate, she asked, estimating it to be about 0.4 to 0.6 per cent.  How did the Government ensure that women in internally displaced persons camps, for example, would benefit?

Second, the Committee had been told that, except for Aceh province, the central Government maintained a grip over the country.  How did it regulate possible discrimination against women in that province?  On employment, she asked how the law on domestic violence covered female domestic workers who were not members of the family for whom they worked, citing an Amnesty International report that stated the workers had been subjected to physical violence, with one in central Java who had allegedly been burned by cigarettes.  How did the Government prevent that type of horrible abuse?

Also, she wondered about the contents of the Memorandums of Understanding signed with other countries.  She had heard that the Memorandum of Understanding with Malaysia allowed employers to keep the passports of migrant workers.  Was that indeed true?  If so, Indonesia should get rid of that provision.  Moreover, migrant workers had to pay $20 as a “protection fee” upon departing Indonesia for work abroad; by this point, Indonesia had possibly collected $100 million.  How had that money been used?  Also, a $2.50 fee had been collected in the name of “data collection”.  How had that money been used? 

PRAMILA PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, said that, despite all the employment regulations and ratification of ILO conventions, implementation was extremely poor.  Salaries were significantly lower for women, and they were not enjoying the same career development opportunities.  The report stated that there was a specific monitoring system to ensure compliance with the principle of equality in employment, about which she sought some details.  Was that different from the labour inspectorate?  When was it established and had it been evaluated?  What resources had been allocated to it, and what was the role of the labour inspectorate?  Also, did the new monitoring body cover both the private and public sectors?  She also asked for data on the number of violations detected and sanctions in the cases of violations.

She noted that law number 13 of 2003 said that violations were subject to administrative sanctions.  What were those sanctions?  On wages, which body was responsible for determining minimum wage, and did the Government envisage reformulating the wage structure for female-dominated work?  There was a major omission in the manpower act of 2003 and 2005 on the guidelines on equal employment opportunities, in that the act did not guarantee men and women equal pay for work of equal value.  That fact had also been pointed out to the Government by the International Labour Organization (ILO).  Was the Government considering amending that act?

She said that the report was silent on the question of maternity protection, and she wished to be enlightened about that, especially the extent to which the private sector was complying with the laws.  She also asked about employment creation strategies and whether the Labour Ministry was ensuring women’s equal access to training.  The report was also silent on incidences of sexual harassment and working conditions, especially occupational health and safety issues.  There was no specific law addressing sexual harassment at work, but how many such cases had been reported and prosecuted under the criminal code provision?

Women in the informal sector were the lowest paid and they all had one thing in common -- a lack of formal labour and social protection, she said.  What attention was the Government paying to them, and was there any data on those large numbers of women?  If policy planners did not recognize the informal labour force, they would not be able to design effective policies, and the workers in that sector would remain excluded from the benefits enjoyed in formal employment.

Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt, asked about the low number of girls entering high-level schools. 

Delegation’s Response

A member of the delegation said that all primary school teachers had at least a master’s degree.  Women teachers were increasing in number.  There were mostly women teachers in primary schools, but all the head teachers were men.  Efforts were under way to provide women with the opportunity to receive more education by long distance, so they could teach while earning a high-level degree.

As for sexual harassment by teachers, a delegate said that studies had been conducted and it was true that schools were not yet a safe place for everyone, meaning that some children were harassed by teachers and classmates.  That was being worked on under a related law on child protection.

Another delegate added that counselling was provided in all schools, but the problem was that many students lived far away from the nearest school, and girls did not travel far to schools.  Those students relied instead on their parents for counselling.  There was day care for children under age 5 for mothers who worked.

On Aceh, another delegate provided details on the budgetary allocations for women’s empowerment programmes.  The budget for the Department of Health, Women and Education exceeded $1 million, but, in reality, that office had only received about 15 per cent of that.  Micro-business loans had been issued to 43,000 individuals.  He did not have exact data disaggregated by gender, but he thought that about 60 to 65 per cent of those individuals were women.

Sharia law was neutral, another delegate said.  However, in implementation, there was discrimination for several reasons.  Several people, sometimes groups, took issues into their own hands.  For example, the sharia police, according to the Government, lacked education and training.  Starting in 2008, the Government said it would conduct training for the Aceh police to take the emphasis off the dress code and place it on a green city and cleanliness.  The dress code applied to both women and men, it just tended to emphasize women, because theirs was more elaborate.

Another delegate pointed out that the Government was preparing a draft law on domestic workers, adding that there was already a law on the elimination of domestic violence.  Thus, anything that happened under one roof could be reported by anyone living there, or even by a neighbour.  That included domestic workers.  The individual could report the alleged violation to the police, or to a specified post office box.

Regarding the migrant worker case in central Java, another delegate said that it had given her Government an idea of how such issues should be addressed with the Malaysian Government.  It had provided a snapshot of what was happening on the ground, including with respect to the holding of passports.  The Memorandum of Understanding between the two Governments mentioned the holding of passports.  Still, there were 11 ports of entry where one could leave Indonesia and enter Malaysia without the Government’s knowledge.  Indonesia was trying to protect the migrant workers, especially from its own country, but implementation was challenging.  Often, those individuals did not carry passports or other legal documentation, and most were uneducated.

On the issue of cost, it was $15 and not $20, and the practice had begun in 1997 and not 1987, the delegate said.  All costs would be eliminated in “terminal 3”, and the Government was seeking to increase the data and not impose any costs.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. PIMENTEL, expert from Brazil, said she was concerned about women’s difficulty in accessing reproductive health services.  Family planning had not shown significant progress and it was difficult to get contraceptives.  There was also a low rate of male participation in family planning, and the contraceptive and family planning services did not include those who were not married.  Condom use was considered to be only for married males.  What were the Government’s strategies to monitor the several policies and programmes in place on women’s reproductive health and rights?  What were its strategies to increase the access of poor women in both rural and urban areas to basic health services?

She said that female genital mutilation was apparently performed on female children, despite the admonition from the Health Ministry.  In fact, it continued to be endorsed by Islamic leaders and the practice had even started anew in some regions.  Certain non-governmental organizations had reports that the law did not guarantee access to reproductive health-care services for abortion because of a confusing article in the law that blocked such access and led to “endless debates”.  She asked for clarification regarding that confusion.  Also, how effective were efforts to reduce the maternal mortality rate, and what measures were being taken to combat the harmful practice of female genital mutilation?

Picking up on the question about maternal mortality, Ms. DAIRIAM, expert from Malaysia, asked if there were time-bound benchmarks for reducing the rate, because it was high and had been for some time.  The First Lady had launched the Mother Friendly programme to reduce maternal mortality, which had first been launched 11 years ago.  She wanted to know why it had to be revitalized and, if it had gone unimplemented before, why would it be implemented this time.  She had read in some reports that there was health insurance for poor people and family cards for them to access health services, but the programme was discriminatory in the way it was implemented, because they had to establish a permanent residency.  However, the poorer the people, the less likely it was that they would have a permanent domicile.

Regarding access to family planning services and access to contraceptives, the delegation had indicated in its written replies that family planning services had weakened owing to decentralization, she noted.  However, it had given assurances that the Government was monitoring the situation.  The Ministry of Home Affairs had struck down 899 by-laws that it had found unfeasible from an economic standpoint.  Were there any examples where the Ministry of Home Affairs had “chopped down” a by-law of a local authority related to women’s rights that was discriminatory?

Teenage pregnancies and the ensuing abortion rates were high, she said.  What programmes had been put in place to prevent that, and was the Government monitoring the situation to see whether the education of young girls was effective?  In addition, was the Government monitoring the rate of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion?

Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt, said Indonesia had made progress in the area of family planning.  The report said studies were being done on women’s health in four districts, and she hoped that would be extended to others, as well, as that type of research was important for developing strategies and improving health.

On abortions, she said the final outcome of the Cairo Conference did not state that abortion was a means of family planning.  What was Indonesia’s situation and was abortion practiced?  What were the legal implications?

Also, female genital mutilation was an African custom, she explained, not a Muslim one.  There was no link between female genital mutilation and the Muslim religion.  Finally, what were the Government’s plans for dealing with the AIDS epidemic?

Delegation’s Response

One delegate explained that Indonesia’s goal was to attain health for all by 2010, particularly through community based health services and local financial accountability.

On access to family planning, another delegate added that the Government guaranteed services and tools for women.  He said the family planning infrastructure had been designed to reach rural areas and the Government provided contraceptive devices for poor families, covering service fees.  The problem was in informing poor families about where to go for those services.  The National Family Planning Board had field workers and volunteers that brought information to poor families.  Nonetheless, participation among men in family planning was low, at only 2 per cent involved.  The Government was trying to socialize the use of condoms, but must be sensitive to that issue with teenage boys and girls, and ensure that the education was in line with culture and traditions.

Reproductive health services were accessed through village health centres, another delegate said, noting that unsafe abortions had contributed to a maternal mortality rate of around 5 per cent in 2002-2003.  On abortion, she said special law number 23 contained an article aimed at improving early indications of emergency abortions.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, said Indonesia had a large rural population, and thus rural development was important.  A gender-mainstreaming mechanism had been created and she wondered how national development plans and poverty eradication strategies -- including achieving the Millennium Development Goals -- had benefited rural women.  What was the implementation of that policy?

Also, she asked whether women engaged in entrepreneurship and small business were treated equal to men in access to land, credit and tax benefits.   What marketing facilities were available at the local and national levels for primary producers?

The head of the delegation had mentioned birth certificates, she said.  How did the Government implement that mechanism in rural areas?  What agencies were responsible for that work?  On the Mother Friendly Movement to reduce maternal mortality, how was that implemented at the grass-roots level?

On internal trafficking from rural to urban areas, she wondered if alternative livelihoods and educational opportunities had been developed for rural women.  Was there a time-bound policy to address that issue?  Rural women rarely attended schools, she continued.  How was Indonesia addressing that issue?  Were there time-bound targeted policies?  How were elderly women protected?  Younger women were migrating to urban areas and elderly women were being abandoned.

Delegation’s Response

The gender-mainstreaming strategy was the main tool, the head of delegation explained, noting it was being integrated into education, health, labour and poverty alleviation efforts.  On micro-credit, she said the Government coordinated with banks.  Regional Governments had not paid attention to the problem of safe motherhood, which was why the First Lady had revitalized the Mother Friendly Movement, she continued.  Also, mother-friendly hospitals provided obstetric and emergency care.

Turning to trafficking, another delegate emphasized that the Government had cooperated with women’s organizations to raise awareness, especially among the poor, about the dangers of trafficking.  Also, community radio was used to discuss the dangers of trafficking.

On educating rural women, he said the Government did not force rural women to attend school, as it took time for the family to accept such a decision.  Vocational training was provided to girls in villages, but it was hoped that girls would choose to attend school.

Another delegate touched on poverty and rural women, noting that 77 per cent of the poor lived in rural areas, concentrated in the agricultural sector.  The Department of Agriculture had taken steps to attain the Millennium Development Goals and overcome chronic poverty in farming areas.  Major efforts included farmer empowerment through training programmes; special loans and grants from the Asian Development Bank for female farmers in highlands and dry lands; and rural income-generating projects in 14 provinces, with micro-credit provided through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, said the marriage law of 1974 contained discriminatory provisions and she was extremely concerned about it.  She wanted to know about the status of the proposed amendment to the marriage law.  What priority was given to the draft bill and what support existed in the Cabinet for an early enactment?  Despite the Committee’s recommendations, no progress had been achieved in eight years.

Second, she wondered about the competence of religious courts.  What was their jurisdiction regarding civil law?  Were religious leaders sitting on religious courts trained on provisions of the Convention?  On the custody of minor children, was the principle of “the best interest of the child” followed?  She also wondered what legal provisions existed for spousal support.

Ms. MAIOLO, expert from Italy, said she kept hearing that there were laws in existence, but that they were poorly applied, not enforced or in draft form.  On marriage, she asked if polygamy actually existed and if there were early marriages of little girls?  Was the husband always the head of the household, or not?  The delegation had said that sharia was a choice, but how did that relate to men and women in marriage?  There had been talk this morning about a draft law on marriage, but what was the status of that law?  Was it only “in progress”?

Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt, noted that Indonesia had withdrawn its reservation on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but said that, although there were no reservations to either the women’s or children’s Convention’s, there were contradictions.  For example, the marriage age did not confirm to the Government’s obligations under either treaty.  How did the Government reconcile that?  There was also discrimination against women under the family laws.  The delegation had also said that laws under the Islamic sharia might be the reason for the discrimination, but many Islamic countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco, had registered great progress.  She expected Indonesia, being a country with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, to emulate such models and to consider amending the family laws in consonance with the country’s social culture.

Delegation’s Response

Yes, a member of the delegation said, religious leaders were being trained and sensitized.  The marriage age was 16 for girls and 19 for boys.

Another delegate said women used to “be run” very much by their fathers, before the legislation on marriage adopted in 1974.  With the new law, the father’s authority had been diminished and the right of the woman was “freer”.  Before 1974, polygamy had been the “pride of some men”, but that pride was no longer in evidence.  Women’s right to divorce had been another way to empower women after 1974.  Women previously divorced their husbands at a rate of 10 per cent, but now, 70 per cent of the divorces were initiated by women.  Also, in the upcoming draft legislation on the family, there would be no more “non-legalized” marriage.

The country was still facing the challenge of underage marriage, unregistered marriages and a high rate of polygamy, another delegate acknowledged.  There were also cases of forced marriages.  In 2004, the Department of Religion had proposed a draft amendment to Islamic law to reverse some of those practices, but the draft had not been accepted by many Islamic organizations.  “But we still try to convince them that we must protect the rights of women,” she said.

Experts’ Comments and Questions

Ms. SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, repeated her series of questions on women migrant workers, given the magnitude and seriousness of the issue and their high number.  She added that since $15 was collected, could a national body be established for their protection and empowerment?  Also, could there be a public forum in Indonesia following the session, where the Committee’s concluding comments, the Convention and the Optional Protocol were discussed? she asked.

Ms. PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, said there were gross discrimination against women and no implementation of the law because of discriminatory practices in the hiring of women, promotion with regard to salary and working conditions.  What efforts were being undertaken by the Government to monitor the situation?  She also repeated her question for details about the new mechanism and how it was different from the labour inspectorate.  She asked about pay gaps, the manpower act, sexual harassment and equal pay for work of equal value.  She also asked about women in the informal sector and whether the Government was taking them into account.

Ms. NEUBAUER, expert from Slovenia, recalled that she had emphasized the lack of positive development regarding Indonesian women in diplomacy.  She had since received additional information from the delegation that the number of women ambassadors and general counsels had actually decreased in comparison to the data provided in the report.

Ms. DAIRIAM, expert from Malaysia, repeated some questions from this morning concerning the status of the Convention in the domestic legal order and the time frame for enacting the gender equality law.  On polygamy, she asked whether, if a man turned his marriage into a polygamous one without following the regulations, his second marriage would be declared null and void.

Ms. ARA BEGUM, expert from Bangladesh, noting that most women migrant workers were employed in Saudi Arabia as domestic workers, asked why there was no Memorandum of Understanding or bilateral agreement with that country.  What was the time bound plan to ratify the Optional Protocol and approve the extended meeting time for the Committee?

Ms. MAIOLO, expert from Italy, said she had not gotten an answer about the reform of the quota law or stereotypes in politics.

Delegation’s Response

A delegation member said there was a working body to protect and place migrant workers abroad.  There was a new interpretation of the Koran that clearly spelled out the rights of women.  The basic documents used in schools had been revised to mainstream gender ideals.  There was a sanction in place for the next elections, in 2010, if a political party did not fulfil the quota of 30 per cent women.

As for a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia, a delegation member said that Indonesia had conducted senior official meetings and it would formally draft a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia on the protection of migrant workers in that country.

On equal pay, the delegation said the Government had ratified ILO Convention 111 and it was now formulating an implementation programme for it.

Closing Remarks

Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt and acting Chairperson of Chamber A today, said that Indonesia was very important in the developing world and women’s improved status there could set a good example for other countries.  Indonesia was an Islamic country with the largest population of all Muslim countries, and she appreciated the changes introduced to the law to enable women to exercise their rights more broadly.  There had been great achievements, “but we still look for more”, and she trusted those would occur following the Committee’s concluding comments.  She also trusted those recommendations would be fully considered by members of the Government, Parliament and civil society, so that measures could be taken to enhance women’s status under law.

Ms. SWASONO, head of the delegation, recalled that, in the introduction of the report this morning, she had indicated many key initiatives by the Government to bring about women’s empowerment and gender equality in “the new Indonesia”.  All of those were “work in progress”.  She assured the experts that much remained to be done to achieve an ideal situation.  Conditions must be created to consistently facilitate women’s progress.  After today’s frank exchange, the Committee could appreciate Indonesia’s challenges and constraints.  No matter how great the difficulties, however, the country remained fully committed to the task.

She sincerely thanked the Committee members for their comments, observations and questions, which had strengthened her Government’s resolve to ensure consistent and continuous progress.  Inadequate implementation of adopted laws, policies and programmes hampered steady progress in Indonesia, but to suggest that nothing happened on the ground would be inaccurate.  As for whether there was room for strong action, “yes, there was room for such action”.  There was “no cut-off point” for action affecting the conditions of women.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.