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Jakarta Post

Impoverished women first to be hit by price rise

  • Indah Setiawati

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 20, 2013   /  08:17 am

A group of female activists voiced their rejection on Wednesday of the planned fuel-price hike, which they said would put more burden on low-income women workers and homemakers.

The activists, who represent different organizations and communities, have joined the Women'€™s Action Committee (KAP).

Siti Kholifah from Tanah Baru in Depok, West Java, said women, who generally manage their families'€™ budgets, would be prone to domestic violence as their husbands would not care how they handled the
money to cope with increasing prices of staple foods.

She said she had already suffered from higher food prices for a month, which had affected her small cake business.

'€œMy customers want to buy the same quality cakes at the same prices, so I have to reduce my profits,'€ she said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

According to a KAP survey, some staple foods such as rice, eggs, meat and milk had seen price increases of between 10 percent and 40 percent after lawmakers approved the 2013 revised state budget, paving the way for the government to increase the price of subsidized fuel.

Dina Ardiyanti of the Trade Union Rights Center said her concern was that the rising prices of staple food items would force housewives to skimp on a nutritious diet for their children as they had no increase of income.

She also criticized the government'€™s plan to distribute temporary direct cash assistance (BLSM) of Rp 150,000 (US$15) per month to the impoverished, saying that the short-term assistance scheme would not improve conditions for the poor.

'€œI think the cash assistance should be given under certain conditions. For example, low-income families earning the minimum monthly wage would receive a few years of cash assistance, but they would have to ensure that their children stayed in school,'€ she said.

The planned fuel-price increase has also forced industrial workers to insist companies comply with the 2013 minimum provincial wage for different sectors (UMSP).

Last December, the Jakarta Remuneration Board set the 2013 UMSP at between 5 and 17 percent higher than the 2013 minimum wage (UMP), which the board set at Rp 2,216,243 or 44 percent higher than last year'€™s level of Rp 1.53 million.

Ampi, an activist with the All Factory Workers Forum (FBLP) at Kawasan Berikat Nusantara in Cakung in East Jakarta, said that only a few companies had so far complied with the regulation.

She said the fuel-price hike would exacerbate financial hardship for workers, adding that they struggled to make ends meet on a daily basis.

'€œMany workers borrow money from loan sharks and they can only afford to pay the interest, not the whole debt,'€ she said.

Getting a job with a decent salary has become an issue for impoverished people, forcing many women to seek jobs overseas as domestic workers.

Karsiwen of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers, said the combination of the fuel-price increase and inadequate job opportunities would only increase the number of Indonesian women working abroad without proper documentation.

'€œBeing a migrant worker is not a dream for us as we are separated from our families and face many challenges. But, finding a job here is difficult and the higher cost of fuel will make things worse,'€
she said.

Indonesians are now counting the days ahead of the fuel-price hike. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said on Tuesday that the new prices would be announced within one week.

Mutiara Ika Pratiwi of women'€™s organization Perempuan Mahardhika said she wanted to see more women fighting against the fuel-price increase.

'€œTo date, only students and workers have joined the movement against the fuel-price hike. Women need to participate because they are the ones who will feel the direct impact,'€ she said.

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