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Women legislators eye
role in global forums

Indonesia's women legislators are aiming to get more involved in international forums in their bid to become the best female parliamentarians in Asia.

"The international achievement of an Indonesian female legislator has made this country proud. I hope others will follow suit," House Speaker Marzuki Alie said Friday during the inauguration of the organizing committee of the Indonesian Parliamentary Caucus for Women (KPPRI) for the 2009-2014 period.

He was referring to Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, his Democratic Party colleague, who chaired a session at the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States (PUIC). She was the first woman to lead PUIC's Women, Social and Cultural Affairs meeting.

KPPRI chairwoman A.P. Andi Timo Pangerang, also from the Democratic Party said the caucus was the vehicle to bring more Indonesian women legislators to the international fore.

"The KPPRI must improve its relationship and cooperate with all parties, the government, NGOs and international institutions," she said.

The KPPRI includes all 136 women members of the House of Representatives and the House of Regional Representatives (DPD).

The House has 101 female legislators, with 35 in the DPD. The number of women in the two institutions in the previous term was 103.

Andi said the increase in the number of women in parliament was good, but still not enough.

She added her top priority for the KPPRI was to empower the women currently in parliament.

"Gender equality is not about quantity, which leads to the debate over whether the 30 percent quota for women in the House is enough.

"More women at the House means nothing if they lack political and leadership skills," Andi said.

She said women's participation in state affairs would be recognized "if women were agents of change".

The KPPRI will encourage its members to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in all House commissions.

"Women must accommodate gender equality and women's empowerment in the state budgeting process and the passing of laws," Andi said.

Marzuki suggested that a caucus such as the KPPRI be established at a regional level so the women's empowerment campaign could be promoted across the country.

Of the 136 members of the KPPRI, 71 hold positions at the caucus' organizing committee. Of the committee members, 44 are legislators, the rest are members of the DPD.

With nine people, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party has the most members in the committee.

Women legislators from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have eight seats at the committee, the Golkar Party seven and the National Awakening Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) four each.

The United Development Party (PPP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Greater Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) each have three members.

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