Gender Equality a Priority in EU-Indonesia Cooperation

Left to right, Franck Viault, head of cooperation at the EU delegation to Indonesia, Kennedy Simanjutak, the deputy minister for development funding at the Ministry of National Development Planning, Sri Danti, senior advisor to Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise and Vincent Guérend, the EU Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam at the launch of the 2017 EU Blue Book at Hotel Le Meridien in Jakarta on Tuesday (16/05). (JG Photo/Sheany)

By : Sheany | on 5:00 PM May 17, 2017
Category : News, Featured, Foreign Affairs

Jakarta. Initiatives and programs within the European Union-Indonesia development cooperation now prioritize gender mainstreaming as a crosscutting issue, according to a report released on Tuesday (16/05).

The EU’s 2017 Blue Book, the latest version of an annual report on EU-Indonesia development cooperation, highlights the impact of women’s participation in the economy and noted its crucial role in sustainable development and economic growth.

"Equality between women and men is one of the EU’s founding values. The EU and Indonesia share the belief that gender equality should be at the heart of our societies, and that women empowerment enhances social justice, sustainable development, economic growth and peace," EU Ambassador Vincent Guérend said during the 2017 Blue Book launch at Le Meridien hotel in Jakarta.

Guérend added that the EU has contributed almost half a billion euros of grant assistance to Indonesia, which targets areas such as human rights, good governance, education, forestry and land use, as well as climate change.

The EU has also given Indonesia support in trade, economic development and health services.

The EU’s engagement in development cooperation is part of its commitment to address two of the world’s greatest challenges – eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.

Gender equality in Indonesia

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 report on Global Gender Gap, Indonesia ranked 88 out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality.

The same report also said that while Indonesian women and men have equal access to education and health services, women still lack the opportunities to participate in the economy and politics of the country.

"Gender mainstreaming has been integrated to our national and midterm plans and goals. Since 2009, implementing gender mainstreaming has focused on gender-responsive planning and budgeting," Sri Danti, senior advisor to Minister Yohana Yembise at the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, said.

She added that four ministries – Ministry of National Development Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection – have signed an agreement to formulate national strategies to speed up gender mainstreaming's implementation.

Sri noted there is still gender discrepancy across many areas in Indonesia. As an example, in politics, women only make up 17.72 percent of lawmakers at the House of Representatives, far below the government's target of at least 30 percent, or 168 out of the 560 seats in the House.

Maternal mortality in Indonesia is also still high due to a lack of health services or access to health care for women during pregnancy. Indonesia has not achieved its Millennium Development Goal of reducing post-natal deaths to 102 per 100,000 live births by the end of 2015.

In 2013 the rate of post-natal deaths was standing at 359 per 100,000 live births. A lot of efforts and improvements have been made since then, but according to UNDP's 2015 Human Development Report, the rate of post-natal deaths now still stands at a high 190 per 100,000 live births. 

Sri said the government has continued work on several draft legislations to give gender mainstreaming a stronger legal framework — revising the law on the elimination of domestic violence and completing a bill on elimination of sexual violence.

While Indonesia still has a long way to go to improve gender equality in the country, partnerships with the European Union and its member states may help the country address existing challenges to provide women all over the archipelago with equal rights and equal opportunities.

In 2015, McKinsey Global Institute reported that advancing women’s equality and closing the gender gaps could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

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