On Women's Day, Workers Demand Longer Maternity Leave

MARCH 08, 2015

Jakarta. As they celebrated International Women's Day, Indonesian female laborers on Sunday demanded longer maternity leave and better access to menstrual leave.

The women staged a rally in the center of Jakarta — quiet on its weekly car-free morning — urging the government to immediately ratify the International Labor Organization's convention on maternity protection, under which female workers are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave instead of 12 weeks as currently applied in Indonesia.

"A three-month maternity leave is not enough for female laborers to take care of their newborns because babies need to be breastfed exclusively [for a longer period]," Indah Saptorini, the project coordinator of the All Global Union movement for women, said during the rally on Sunday.

The protesters, comprised of female laborers from 11 federations of worker unions, also demanded an end to the controversial practice of company representatives performing a physical check before menstrual leave is granted.

"The laborers feel that taking menstrual leave is difficult because there's a certain procedure they need to go through, and as a result many opt not to use their right to menstrual leave," Indah explained.

The protesting women said they wanted the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection and the Ministry of Health to issue a joint regulation for better maternity and menstrual leave procedures.

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