The UN in Indonesia Is Holding a ‘Comedy for Equality’ Showcase with Award-Winning Comedian Sakdiyah Ma’ruf


[Press release]

Comedy for Equality

Jakarta, Indonesia — On  11 December 2021, the United Nations (UN) in Indonesia will hold its inaugural Comedy for Equality showcase, featuring performances from 10 Indonesian comedians mentored by the multi-award winning Indonesian comic Sakdiyah Ma’ruf.

Although the UN did not have a hand in crafting any of the comedians’ sets, each performer will address issues related to gender equality and the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence initiative through their comedy. The performances begin at 19:00 Jakarta time on Dec. 11, hosted on media house Kumparan’s Youtube channel.

“Gender-based violence can be an uncomfortable, painful topic to discuss. But addressing it effectively means being able to have honest conversations,” says UN Resident Coordinator for Indonesia Valerie Julliand. “Our Comedy for Equality project challenges taboos and makes conversations about this most serious of subjects a bit less scary.”

Like in many other countries, Indonesia has witnessed a tragic rise in violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic, corresponding with nationally enforced restrictions on movement. Research by UNWomen shows that the COVID-19 pandemic affected women and men in Indonesia differently, with women disproportionately vulnerable to social and economic pressure.

UN Women and UNFPA Indonesia opened applications for Comedy for Equality on 30 October 2021. The brief asked comics interested in gender equality to submit a short video clip or script of an original joke they had devised.

Of more than 40 applicants, the panel selected 20 comedians to participate in five workshops Ma’ruf hosted through November and December. The workshop also featured Devi Asmarani, the co-founder and editor in chief of the feminist web-magazine Magdalene, and Inaya Wahid, a social and cultural activist as special guests. Following a graduation show on 6 December, the UN in Indonesia selected 10 comedians to perform at the 11 December showcase.

“Stand-up comedy is an art form that allows us to share our most personal stories and tackle sensitive issues, including gender-based violence and inequality,'' says Ma’ruf. “Personally, stand-up comedy allowed me to survive hardships and trauma and rewrite the story in a way that uplifts and empowers.”

Throughout her storied career, Ma’ruf has consistently challenged stereotypes and resisted pressure to censor herself. She has won international renown as a powerful voice for women’s rights.

In 2015, Ma’ruf was awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum. In 2018, she made the BBC’s 100 Women List, with the UK state broadcaster citing Ma’ruf’s deft use of comedy “as a way to challenge Islamic extremism and violence against women.”

Mar’uf says that in in addition to countering narratives that discriminate against women, the Comedy for Equality initiative helps “women and men to reflect their stories of discrimination and marginalization and provides safe spaces for women and men to express themselves.”

She adds that the platform gives “more opportunity to women and men to speak up by cutting industry gatekeepers that censor people and prevent them sharing their truth.”

To watch the Comedy for Equality Showcase, register via or watch live on YouTube on Saturday, 11 December 2021, at 19.00-20.30 WIB.

For more information, please contact:

Radhiska Anggiana
Advocacy and Communications Analyst, UN Women Indonesia

Dian Agustino
Communications Analyst, UNFPA Indonesia

About the UN in Indonesia:

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States. The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. In Indonesia, the UN is committed to supporting the Government of Indonesia in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The UN Country Team is led by UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand, the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level. RCs led UN Country Teams in consultations with the Government to define and agree on the UN strategic response to the Government’s development priorities in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

About UNFPA:

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency with a mission to “deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”. UNFPA began its partnership with Indonesia in 1972 to deliver strengthened family planning services, demographic research, and population education programmes at schools. Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), UNFPA has been one of Indonesia’s most prominent partners in reproductive health, youth, population and development, and gender equality. For more information about UNFPA Indonesia, please visit

About UN Women:

UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women’s rights worldwide. UN Women’s efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development. Please visit: