A nation on the rise needs its women to play a more active role in its affairs. With its economy growing at 6% per annum, Indonesia must allow more women to hold leadership positions in business, politics, culture and social organization. As our 99 Most Powerful Women list aptly illustrates, there is no shortage of female talent in the country. Women have long played a prominent role in the lives of nations and businesses but increasingly they do not want to be treated differently to men. Where in the past they may have sought special treatment, today they want to be seen as equal partners with their male colleagues.
GlobeAsia List of 99 Most Powerful Women
1. Kristiani H. Yudhoyono
Kristiani Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the sixth First Lady of the Republic of Indonesia, playing a strong role behind her husband. In the wake of his electoral victories in 2004 and 2009, Ibu Ani has concentrated on problems of education, health, empowerment of women and public welfare. She has been at the front line when disasters have struck and been honored for her work with microfinance. She is now getting to know a host of other first ladies through Indonesia’s membership of the G20.
2. Mari Elka Pangestu
Minister of Trade
With the exit of Sri Mulyani Indrawati as minister of finance, Mari Elka Pangestu moves higher on the list of top women in government. While her lack of any political backing is seen by some as a weakness, her expertise in international trade makes her a strong player in international and bilateral negotiations. She was seen as scoring a major win over her cabinet colleague MS Hidayat at the industry ministry this year in pushing through the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement. A former academic, she has retained her media savvy to push Indonesian trade.
3. Anny Ratnawati
Deputy Minister of Finance
Anny Ratnawati is a new entrant to the list in the new post of Deputy Minister of Finance, where she was promoted from her earlier job as Director General of State Budget. A graduate of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), previous positions included special adviser to the minister of finance and head of education and training at the ministry.
4. Tati Bakrie
It’s said that behind every powerful man is a powerful woman, and in the case of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, that woman is his wife Tatie. She plays a crucial role in the Bakrie family’s social and philanthropic activities through the Bakrie Foundation and the Bakrie for the Nation Foundation. These two organizations focus on scholarships and poverty alleviation, while the Bakrie Center Foundation in Washington has worked with prestigious groups such as the Carnegie Endowment.
5. Siti Hartati Murdaya
One of the most powerful women in Indonesian business, Siti Hartati Tjakra Murday with her husband Murdaya Poo owns the Central Cipta Murdaya (CCM) Group. As well as controlling assets estimated at close to $1 billion, Hartati pioneered a close relationship with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono prior to his election in 2004, leaving her husband to follow her out of the camp of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri. She is also prominent as chairwoman of the Indonesian Buddhist Council (Walubi).
6. Karen Agustiawan
President Director of PT Pertamina
Karen Agustiawan, 52, is the president director of the state-owned oil and gas giant PT Pertamina and one of its youngest ever directors. With a strong career in the oil and gas business in the private sector behind her, she started at Pertamina in 2006 as an adviser to former chief Ari Soemarno and then took charge of upstream operations in 2009 before being picked for the top job.
7. Megawati Sukarnoputri
Politician, former president
The daughter of Indonesia’s charismatic first president, Sukarno, Megawati had her turn to lead the country from 2002 to 2004, but then lost the presidency to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. As head of the oppositionist Indonesian Democratic Part of Struggle (PDI P), she failed to convince voters at the 2009 polls that she should move back to the State Palace. Now seen as too old for another attempt in 2014, she faces a difficult succession process as head of the party. 8. Melani Leimena Suharli
Politician, Deputy Chairperson of MPR
Now the Deputy Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Melani began her political career in 2005 as a member of the Democratic Party. The daughter of national hero Johannes Leimena, Melani is a member of the party’s powerful board of patrons. Before entering politics, she was a businesswoman and staunch activist for women’s rights. She is the owner of PT Al Amin Universal, a travel industry company.
9. Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Director World Bank
If you’ve got to be the loser in Indonesia’s toughest political fight, at least a well-playing job in Washington is some compensation. Sri Mulyani Indrawati’s head-to-head confrontation with Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie over her treatment of his companies proved too much for the government, which is believed to have arranged her departure from the post of finance minister to take up a managing director position at the World Bank. Many believe she’ll be back one day to play a new role in Indonesian public life. 10. Herawati Boediono
The wife of Vice President Boediono, Herawati takes a low-key role as Indonesia’s Second Lady. Married to Boediono in 1969, they have two children and two grandchildren. A devout Muslim, her concerns are focused on public welfare, with particular interest in the provision of better healthcare, reducing the child mortality rate and implementing family planning. She is active in a number of organizations, including the National Handicrafts Organization (Dekranas).
To read the rest of the list (11-99), please get a copy of GlobeAsia Magazine October 2010 edition.