The Jakarta Post
A new book on model-turned-politician Okky Asokawati has highlighted the lack of women in Indonesian politics.
However, From Fashion to Politics is more than just a biography that chronicles Okky's career from the fashion runway to the political stage.
At the book's launch, Okky, who has served as a member of the House of Representatives for two legislative sessions, said that the book offered a call to Indonesian women to participate actively in national politics.
'Our parliament needs more women,' Okky said.
Men and women perceive things differently, she says, and the legislative process needs a woman's greater attention to detail.
As an example, Okky talked about her own experience during deliberations on the Social Security Providers Law, which focused on public health and women's issues.
Thanks to input from several women legislators, the law that was passed was more friendly to women, Okky said. 'This shows how a woman's perspective is needed during the deliberations on laws.'
Despite laws mandating that 30 percent of House legislators be women, only 14 percent of members seated for the current session are women, down from 17.86 percent in the last legislative session, according to information from the House.
This lack of women is a concern for political observer Yunarto 'Toto' Wijaya, who said that the numbers of men and women legislators should be more even to ensure that laws were passed that were equal, balanced and that met the needs of constituents.
Toto, who was also at the launch, said that women from all walks of life should run for office. 'Okky is an example coming from the fashion world, but I believe the existence of women politicians who contribute to the country can come from different professions.'
Book author Threes Emir said that the book focused on Okky's transition from model to politician. 'The book is also complete with comments from family members and Okky's colleagues in politics and modeling.'
Okky began her political career after United Development Party politician Suryadarma Ali asked her to run in 2009. She won, and was reelected in 2014.
Her peers in the House describe Okky as a woman who is dedicated, detailed-oriented ' and fashionable.
'She is very diligent and very committed to her work. She always focuses on health issues and workers' protection. From those two sectors, we can see her passion,' said Tantowi Yahya, another celebrity-turned-politician.
Another legislator, Ledia Hanifa Amaliah from the Prosperous Justice Party, said Okky was humble and thorough.
'She always discusses things in details ' including during the deliberations for laws,' Ledia said. 'Not many legislators are interested in digging into problems as deeply as Okky.'
Okky said that she learned to focus when she was on the catwalk. 'As a model, you must pay attention to detail.'
A top model in the 1980s, Okky, a favorite of designers such as Samuel Wattimena, Biyan, Iwan Tirta and Ghea Panggabean, later established the OQ Modeling school to nurture new talents.
Her alumnae include actress Inneke Koesherawati and presenter Alya Rohali.
Okky comes from a modest family. Her father was imprisoned after the 1965 abortive coup and her mother had to make ends meet as an English teacher to support their six children.
Former legislator Ribka Tjiptaning said that Okky defied the stereotypes.
'At first, I doubted her. She looked just like other celeb politicians who was only concerns with her look ' in her stilettos,' Ribka said. 'Well, I believe we should not fight for the people with stilettos, but after working with her, I realize that beyond that fancy outlook, she still fights for the people.'
Ribka, who said that Okky once climbed out a truck in high heels to give a speech at a rally, said that she had dressed up for the event to impress Okky.
'I want to look good for Okky, for her inspiration in politics,' said Ribka, who received cheers from the audience.