Photo: UN Photo/Ishak Saleh
A peasant woman was picking coffee beans during the harvest season in Takengon, Aceh, Indonesia. This woman worked diligently in helping her family and she lives equally with her man in supporting their family. Photo: UN Photo/Ishak Saleh


After a long and tumultuous history of colonization and internal conflict, Indonesia finally transitioned into democracy in the late 1990s, ushering in a period of political, economic and social reforms. While largely a harmonious multi-ethnic population, sectarian violence has caused instability, and natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami have ravaged the country. In Indonesia, the challenges to gender equality remain discriminatory attitudes, which prevent women from exercising their economic rights, property ownership and land inheritance, access to credit, wages and workplace benefits, and livelihood opportunities. Exploitation of women migrants, violence and harmful traditional practices are further cause for concern.

Indonesia ratified the Convention in 1984 with the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment (MOWE) as the national women’s machinery tasked with CEDAW reporting, implementation and monitoring state obligations. A presidential decree in 2000 obliges all government bodies to mainstream gender in their policies, programmes and budgets to eliminate gender discrimination, further supporting the advancement of gender equality. A ‘national vision’ on women’s empowerment has brought the realization of gender equality to state and community level, focusing on the improvement of women’s quality of life, raising public awareness about gender equality and justice, eliminating violence against women, promotion and protection of women’s human rights, and strengthening the capacity of women’s organizations.

In Indonesia, UN Women has been working in Indonesia since 1992 in Jakarta and 2005 in Aceh. UN Women is working in the following areas:

  • To encourage the Political Participation of Women, UN Women together with KPI (Indonesia Women’s Coalition) conducted capacity building for women candidates who run for office in legislative bodies in two provinces
  • In the Regional Programme on Gender Responsive Budgeting, UN Women’s partnership with Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Children’s Protection, Ministry of National Planning and Ministry of Finance supports four pilot ministries in formulating their first gender-responsive Work Plan budget.
  • Through the CEDAW Southeast Asia Programme, UN Women facilitates the formation of the CEDAW Working Group Initiative (CWGI), a network of NGOs to monitor state’s obligation in implementing CEDAW. UN Women also supports the government in its obligations to provide a regulatory framework supporting the convention.
  • The Regional Programme to Empower Women Migrant Workers in Asia has been developing a community-based pre-departure Training Programme for Migrant Workers in Indonesia; establishing community-based organizations (CBOs) to disseminate information on safe migration and provide paralegal assistance for migrant workers and their families. The project focuses on strengthening, replicating and up-scaling the existing community-based initiatives. The most significant result of the programme has been the Law on the Protection of Migrant Workers in Blitar which had been signed on 18 December 2008, by the District Parliament and the District Government of Blitar and the continued commitment to replicate this law in other project districts.