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Jakarta Post

Long road to gender equality in Indonesian Military

  • Ivany Atina Arbi
    Ivany Atina Arbi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 26, 2020   /   04:30 pm
Long road to gender equality in Indonesian Military A female soldier rehearses for the Indonesian Military’s 74th anniversary ceremony at the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta on Oct. 3, 2019. (JP/Donny Fernando)

The low number of women in the Indonesian Military (TNI) has hampered gender equality within the institution as mandated by the TNI Law, scholars and activists have said.

Indonesian Defense University graduate Umi Farida, who wrote a thesis on women's participation in the military, said the low number of female personnel in the force reflected inequality.

According to the latest data from the TNI, 10 percent of the armed services personnel of some 450,000 are women.

She said a recruitment process that was limited to men contributed to the gender imbalance, adding that the Indonesian Army Academy (Akmil) had not opened recruitment for female cadets in the past two years.

Prospective female cadets, meanwhile, could only enroll in the Army through the non-commissioned officer candidate schools (Secaba), alumni of which were said to have a slimmer chance than their Akmil counterparts of being posted to key positions in the military.

Another route for female soldiers to further their career is to enroll in the Army's Officer Candidate School (Secapa), which is highly competitive among non-commissioned officers.

“This hinders female personnel from serving in leadership positions or higher ranks,” Umi said during an online discussion on Thursday.

Read also: Indonesia Air Force gets first female fighter pilot

On the other hand, the Air Force Academy (AAU) and the Navy Academy (AAL) still recruit female cadets.

Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI mandates the fulfillment of women’s rights as part of human rights, as the regulation requires the armed services to be developed professionally adhering to principles of democracy, human rights as well as other national and ratified international laws.

The country has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) through Law No. 7/1984. The regulation, however, does not stipulate gender mainstreaming efforts in the armed forces.

Gender activist Adriana Venny, also a speaker in the discussion, said the military would need to improve to mainstream gender issues within the institution.

Adriana, who is the coordinator of an NGO against gender-based violence, urged the TNI to apply a gender perspective in its policies, such as creating gender-based standard operating procedures as well as a gender-based curriculum in military education.

"Women’s presence within the armed service can promote respect of human rights and gender equity,” she said.

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Editor's note: 

The article has been updated to clarify that only the Indonesia Army Academy (Akmil) no longer accepts female cadets.