Issues: `Notes for women's

President SBY just installed a new Cabinet, receiving mixed comments on some choices who are professionally "peculiar" to be in their position. People are mostly concerned by those who have so-called strategic ministerial positions such as those that manage the country's macro economic sector and those for the political arena. Less discussions, except from the women's movements, raised with regard to whom sits as the state minister of women empowerment. Then, the name of Linda Gumelar as the new minister was announced. Questions on "Who is she?" and "Why is she leading the office" may be raised by women activists and organizations, but why does this matter to Indonesians?

People have talked about efforts to increase women's participation in politics and decision-making. The Indonesia's Commission for General Elections (KPU) announced that among 560 elected legislators, only 101 were women, representing 18 percent out of all parliamentarians. Would that be enough? No! Other complex inequality issues are here in Indonesia! Does the new Minister Linda Gumelar understand such issues? Will we need to wait or will we just say "Not sure, I do not think so"?

Poverty is a constant issue. Due to inflation, contributed by the increases in fuel prices from 2005 to 2008, the poor have been hurt by rising food prices. The families' economic status, their welfare, and malnutrition status have become a challenge. Women are critical players in assuring food security in the family, but they do not have access to and control over agricultural resources. Only about 5 percent of land's plots are registered in join entitlement. (Written by Leya Cattleya, Jakarta)

Your comments:

I have never heard the former or current minister of women affairs voicing concerns about the many serious gender issues occurring in this country lately. The stoning to death rule for adultery and the ban to women who wear trousers in Aceh. Serious conflicts in the Freeport area where children and women are the victims. The death of Indonesian women workers.

Debates regarding abortions, breast-feeding, and many more. I did not hear any standpoints from the Ministry. While there are many hot issues such as the case of the KPK going on the media, it does not mean that gender and women's issues can be forgotten. It is ironic to hear nothing from the Ministry and the cabinet on these issues. Violations against human and women rights due to political situations and neglected development are treated as normal. Very sad!

Ani Hasyim

This newspaper has presented many gender issues and news. The stoning to death rules to cases of adultery in Aceh (and women have been most affected by it). A ban to women who wear trousers in some parts of Aceh. Violence against women and children in Freeport's conflicts. Abortion's debates. The killing of female migrant workers. Many more have been presented in this newspaper. What have we heard from the Ministry?

Nothing, or nothing useful, if there are. Do we expect the minister to talk to the President and the whole cabinet, and seriously call for attention to stop violations against human rights of women?

How could we expect the minister to do something concrete, if we doubt that she could meaningfully talk to the President and the Cabinet about such serious issues? Does she talk to the female public as well? Wait for the 100 days' agenda of the ministry and we will hear about more wasted training and more laws and regulations that they know they would not be implemented, anyway. Poor Indonesian women.

A. Kasih

I am a lecturer from a private university and I was twice invited to participate in gender socialization and training of the Women Empowerment's Ministry (KPP). I am glad there is a note regarding the KPP. To tell the truth, if I was not asked by my unit's head, I would not feel like going to such training.

The training was so boring and I felt like saying "enough"! As a man, I felt defensive when hearing trainers from the KPP blaming the culture of patriarchy, illustrating a system where men have power over women, scape-goating men for the inequality between women and men. If there are, I am a believer that inequality was caused by complex issues, not mainly by patriarchy. Accumulative government's policies and practices, I find, were the strongest factors maintaining inequalities.

I agree with the writer of the notes. The KPP needs to focus its work. People like me may be better convinced about the importance of gender equality if the KPP developed more actual and contextual concepts.

I feel pity to see how the tax payers' money has been wasted for the training that I twice attended. The KPP should focus on influencing the government's programs and work closely with sector ministries. I wish our country would have another figure such as Khofifah Indarpara-wansa for leading the KPP.

Rama Ardana
Depok, West Java

This country is critically ill. No body in the government talks about the May 1998's riot cases, when women were brutally raped and abused for political reasons. The same things happened in Aceh and Papua. Why should we have a ministry of women affairs which ignores such cases, and when the rights and safety of women are not protected?


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