Election officials wearing superhero costumes at a polling station in Surabaya, East Java, last year. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

Gender-Inclusive Monitoring Helps Ensure Women's Issues Are Not Ignored in Regional Election

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

APRIL 30, 2020

Jakarta. Women should be more involved in monitoring the upcoming regional election, Migrant Care's head of migration study, Anis Hidayah, said on Thursday. The postponement of the election should allow organizers more time to create a gender-inclusive monitoring system that accommodates civil society groups and women's rights activists.

Anis said women have been playing an increasingly bigger role in election monitoring from 1999 to 2019. But she thinks the monitoring system still needs to be more gender-inclusive.  

"To make sure that women's issues are accommodated in the election, we need a more gender-inclusive monitoring system," Anis said in an online conference organized by the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu).

Such a system would allow civil society groups and women's rights activists to put pressure on district head candidates vying for election to accommodate women's interests.  

Anis said women's issues need to be a priority, especially in regions with high rates of violence against women, women's trafficking and child marriages.

"Candidates need to pay attention and accommodate women's perspectives and women's issues. Anyone with a track record of violence against women should not be allowed to run for election," she said.

According to the National Commission for Women's 2019 annual report, West Java had more incidence of violence against women than any other province in Indonesia with 2,738 cases, followed by Central Java (2,525) and then Jakarta (2,222).

One city and seven districts in West Java were supposed to hold elections this year. In Central Java, elections were going to be held in four cities and 17 districts.

"Regional elections can produce new leaders who might help end discriminative local regulations. According to data from the National Commission for Women, there are at least 235 discriminative local regulations that threaten women's rights," Anis said.

Women a Vulnerable Group 

Anis said the next regional election – which will only be held after the coronavirus pandemic ends – might see more cases of "money politics" as people, including many women, lose their jobs in the crisis. 

"Women who are the breadwinners of the family could become targets of money politics. Candidates might offer them bribes in exchange for votes before election day," she said.

Anis reminded that the regional election should also be accessible to disabled women, including women who are illiterate, blind or of advanced age. 

"All of them have to be able to vote. We have to make sure women are not intimidated or manipulated because they are vulnerable," Anis said.

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