Regulatory Initiative on Workplace Gender Equality in Indonesia

For decades, state laws have attempted to address the detrimental issues that surround gender inequality in the workplace. Some argue that public policy could not effectively redress gender issues as it is socially rooted, a way of life that society has perpetually embraced and implemented. Others, however, assert that without state interference, gender inequality at the workplace would stay persistent as the grass-root changeover is time-consuming and likely ineffective against stubborn traditional values.

Indonesia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Women (CEDAW) on 28 February 2000; and the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) on 7 June 1999. Also, the Government implemented the United Nation’s Beijing Platform for Action through the introduction of an Indonesian 9 (nine) National Action Plan.[1] With this, the government is legally required to formulate national policies aimed at ending discrimination in the workplace.

Discrimination against women and pregnant women is prohibited by many national laws including Labour Act No. 13 of 2003 and Human Rights Act No. 39 of 1999. Protective women’s reproductive regulations such as menstrual rest time of 2 days, maternity leave of 1.5 months before and after childbearing, unpaid breastfeeding break, and other women-related safety and health protection are included in the Labour Regulations and National Policy are in place to support women participation in the labour market.

Further, gender mainstreaming in public policy has been nationally adopted with the issuance of the Presidential Instruction No. 9 of 2000, stipulating that gender component should be included in all steps of the National Development from early planning to monitoring and evaluation.[2] In 2009, a pilot program for gender-responsive budgeting was implemented in seven ministries including the Ministries of National Education, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Health, Agriculture, Planning, Public Works, and Finance.[3] Also, Presidential Instruction No. 3 of 2010 and several other regulations of the ministry concerning gender mainstreaming further regulate efforts towards equitable development and inclusivity.[4]

Despite the above initiatives, Indonesia still has a significant gender wage gap with women being paid around 30% less than a similarly qualified man. Discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment of women at the workplace are still reported. Protective regulations for women at the workplace continue to put women a pitfall as they are perceived as an additional burden for business.

National policies often time face barriers in the implementation stage. For instance, women equality-related initiatives are likely barren at the regional level because they are inadequately translated into practical strategies. Lack of adequate resources is also one of the major obstacles in obtaining a tangible outcome. Insufficient knowledge of the regulatory agencies and stubborn social tolerance of gendered attitudes and norms increase complexity in the implementation of gender equality state policies. A uniform regulatory agency approach on the issue could also contribute to an ineffective outcome, particularly in a country consisting of numerous traditional norms and religious values such as Indonesia.

[1] Nathan Associated Inc , viewed on 7 November 2017 <file:///C:/Users/User/Desktop/Nathan%20Associates,%20Inc..pdf>

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Word Bank, Public Policy Brief Gender Equality, viewed on 7 November 2017 <;

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