Women's Political Wisdom

Kebijaksanaan Politik Perempuan
Image credit: rumahpemilu.org

Is there the word "women" in the Indonesian constitution? The answer is, “yes”. The identity of women citizens is strongly guaranteed in the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. Awareness of this affirmative legal condition further highlights the irony of gender discrimination against women in Indonesia, particularly in elections.

Questions and answers about the country's highest legal guarantees are important to convey in the context of the 2024 Elections. This coincides with the General Elections Commission (KPU) issuing KPU Regulation [PKPU] 10/2023. Article 8 paragraph (2) of this regulation raises awareness that the achievements of women's affirmative action so far have not adequately ensured the vulnerability of women in politics. On the contrary, through low-ranking legal products in the hierarchy of legislation, women's affirmative action in the constitution and laws can easily crumble. The vision of representative political institutions finds itself once again facing the storm of discrimination.

Rounding down the percentage of women on the candidate list for each electoral district is an anticlimax in the affirmation of women in the trend of KPU authority. Previously, KPU members tended to make PKPUs that would strengthen women more. In fact, Article 8 paragraph (2) PKPU 10/2023 is 180 degrees different from the previous PKPU. For example, PKPU in the 2014 Legislative Election, the KPU guaranteed 30 percent of women's nominations for each electoral district.


“Women” in the Constitution  

The word "perempuan" (woman) exists in our constitution. Specifically, it is mentioned in Article 28H, Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. In this article, the word "perempuan" is not explicitly used. One of the provisions resulting from the second amendment writes the term "perempuan" as "setiap orang" (every person).

The article reads: Setiap orang berhak mendapat kemudahan dan perlakuan khusus untuk memperoleh kesempatan dan manfaat yang sama guna mencapai persamaan dan keadilan [Every person has the right to receive ease and special treatment to obtain the same opportunity and benefit in order to achieve equality and fairness].

The term “setiap orang” [every person] in that article should indeed be the term "perempuan" (woman). Why?  The answer is because that article is the result of the political struggle by women's groups during the constitutional amendment process.

This explanation can be proven, and we can find its legal basis in the minutes of the post-Reform constitutional amendment process. In Book VIII - Comprehensive Text of Amendments to the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (Secretary General of the Constitutional Court, 2010), it is clearly stated that the content of Article 28H, Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution exists because of the extraordinary efforts of the women's political movement.

Valina Singka Subekti is a prominent woman politician who confidently and with high quality articulates women's affirmative politics in the constitutional changes in Indonesia. This political science academic from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) at the University of Indonesia (UI) represents the Groups Delegation Faction [Fraksi Utusan Golongan (FUG)] of the People's Consultative Assembly [Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (MPR)]. She effectively explained the principles of human rights that must be guaranteed in the constitution.

Valina reminded that one of the principles of human rights is the principle of gender justice. She explained that the constitution must guarantee the principle of equality without discrimination based on sex and gender. This woman who is now a professor at FISIP UI refers to the Vienna Declaration which was agreed upon by more than 170 countries (including Indonesia) in 1993. International legal documents have acknowledged that women's human rights are an integral, inalienable and inseparable part of human rights. .

Furthermore, Valina explained that the substance of human rights is not only limited to civil-political rights, economic rights, socio-cultural rights, but also the importance of including women's human rights. According to her, this is also related to the issue of discourse which is the mainstream in the world, regarding democracy, freedom, human rights and the environment.


Legal Politics Achievements

The existence of the women's political movement in the constitutional amendment gave rise to dynamic discussions on affirmative politics, resulting in Article 28H, Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. Women's political identity develops discussions about the identities of other vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly (elderly). This highest legal guarantee is then optimized by women's groups in advocating law at the statutory level.

If we place citizens as having a variety of social identities, it seems that women are the identities that are mostly written in the law. We can name a number of laws that specifically affirm women. There is the Law on the Elimination of Domestic Violence. There is the Law on the Eradication of Human Trafficking. Or, recently, phenomenally valid, there is the Law on Sexual Violence Crimes.

In the themes or titles of other laws and regulations, women's identity is present in the form of gender mainstreaming in the field of law. The existence of a gender entity in the hierarchy of laws and regulations has consequences for budget allocations and education and training for women.

In political laws, various forms of affirmative actions are introduced in many legislations. The word "perempuan" (woman) is present in political party laws, electoral laws, and regional election laws. Women are specifically mentioned in relation to special treatments, including gender quotas and electoral quotas.

Gender quota is effectively implemented in the Political Party Law. It takes the form of a requirement for every political party to have a minimum of 30 percent women in their management as a legal entity. This is intended to ensure equal representation of women in the list of legislative candidate of political parties.

Electoral quota is a consequence of gender quota within political parties. Law 7/2017 on General Elections most recently guarantees electoral quotas. Under this legal provision, women are empowered to have a minimum presence of 30 percent as election participants and election organizers. In fact, political parties are required to fulfill a minimum quota of 30 percent of female candidates on the proposed list of candidates for legislative members, which if violated, political parties cannot become election participants.

Unfortunately, in the context of the 2024 Elections, all of the constitutional and laws guarantees are destroyed by the KPU's technical rules. If we recall the context of Article 28H Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, this will hurt women's groups.



The word "women" does not exist in the formulation of Article 28H Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, partly because of the wisdom of the women's movement. This wisdom of the heart makes the word "women" into the word "everyone" who has the right to receive ease and special treatment to obtain the same opportunity and benefit in order to achieve equality and fairness.

Unfortunately, women's political wisdom in the formulation of the highest law was betrayed by a democratic institution called the KPU [General Elections Commission] of 2024 Elections. The general election commission which is national, permanent and independent, which is also guaranteed in the constitution and borne out of civil society movements, appears to be biased towards the patriarchal nature of political parties in the DPR [the House of Representatives].

If the women's political movement is aware that the General Elections Commission Regulation (PKPU) No. 10/2023 will be in effect for the 2024 election, the wisdom and political aspirations of women will not be chosen. It should be sufficient for the strong conviction of women in politics to push for the inclusion of the word "perempuan" (woman) in Article 28H, Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia and other relevant articles.

The womb of the Reform Mother has given birth to affirmative actions and an independent election commission. However, as her children, the General Election Commission (KPU) has betrayed her. []