11 September 2010

Quota for Women in Senior Party Positions Falls Short

Jakarta Globe - September 7, 2010

Armando Siahaan, Jakarta -- The legal requirement that a third of a
political party's executive board be comprised of female officials was
being blatantly ignored, a civil society group said on Tuesday.

Yuda Irlang, from the Civil Society Alliance for Political Law Revision
(Ansipol), said that according to the group's research, not one party had
complied with the 2008 Law on Politics that stipulates 30 percent of all
parties' central executive boards must be made up of women.

Ansipol is, however, still waiting for some parties, such as the United
Development Party (PPP), to hold their national congress and appoint board
members before finalizing its study.

According to Yuda, while the number of women in political parties has
increased steadily in recent years, their numbers have consistently failed
to reach the 30 percent threshold. "We must push political parties to
fulfill the mandate of the law," she said.

To address the shortfall, Yuda said Ansipol recommended additional
regulations to force parties to incorporate the quota in their internal

The PPP reportedly already has internal regulations that require seven of
its 21 board members to be women.

Similarly, Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said her party also had regulations regarding
the quota. "But the implementation of such regulations is difficult," she

But Yuda said that even if women were included on party executive boards,
most were given relatively low-ranking positions and had little say in
policy-making decisions.

She said that based on Ansipol's study, most parties said it was difficult
to find women qualified enough to hold such strategic positions.

Lily Wahid, herself a prominent lawmaker from the National Awakening Party
(PKB), conceded that while she believed parties that failed to meet the
quota should be disqualified from elections, there was a dearth of capable
female politicians.

"Looking at the political realities, there are only a handful of female
politicians who can compete with male politicians," she said.

Lily said that having underqualified women in senior executive positions
could even prove detrimental for parties. "Having a quota does not
necessarily guarantee the quality of the female politicians being given the
position," she said.

Rieke said the parties themselves should ultimately be responsible for
cultivating more qualified female politicians. "The party should be the
'political school' for all of its cadres, including women," she said.

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