In a patriarchal culture women are always the poorest of the poor since, apart from being marginalized by government policy, they are further impoverished by being stereotyped as subordinates of men and thus as having no claim on any type of resource. Such patriarchal constructs have, over an extended period of time, contributed to gender inequality. Official data for the year 2000 from the Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that the comparative literacy rate between Indonesian men and women at that time was 56.9%:88.1%. That gap between the sexes contributed indirectly to another gap: the percentage of males and females working in the informal sector (29.6% (men):39.2% (women)).
The gender gap in Indonesia, which has seen women fall way behind men, has never been seriously addressed by government. This fact is clearly evident when one looks at programs designed to promote women’s welfare: programs to empower women and children and provide them with social support always receive a small percentage of budget resources.
- Budget policies to promote the welfare of women and children still attract less than 0.5% of State budgetary resources, a situation made even worse by pressures from population growth.
- Apart from being poorly funded, existing government programs to empower women are focused on gender mainstreaming within government ministries and agencies.
- Take, for example, the issue of protection of women: on the basis of evidence gathered by the National Commission on Violence against Women (known as Komnas Perempuan) the number of reported cases each year of violence against women continues to be high. In 2010, 105 103 cases were reported, far more than the 2007 figure (34 665). But virtually no provision has been made in State budgets (APBN for short) to protect women against such violence. In the draft 2013 APBN only Rp 10.6 billion is set aside for special programs to protect women; but the major part of that funding (Rp 6.3 billion) is earmarked for nothing more than administrative support for Komnas Perempuan. The funds left over will be used by Komnas Perempuan throughout 2013 to implement a wide range of programs to protect women including: policy advocacy; prevention and control of violence against women; legal prosecution of cases of violence against women and preparation of related documents; and provision of counseling for victims of violence. Given that its budget for protection of women is not commensurate with its protection responsibilities, it follows that Komnas Perempuan’s protection policies and activities in 2013 risk being paralyzed by lack of funding.
- It is the same story with protection of children: the bulk of the Rp 234.7 billion allocated for this purpose within the Ministry of Womens Empowerment and Child Protection is budgeted for expenditure on intra-Ministry development of well-coordinated child protection policies. Thus, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission will suffer the same fate as Komnas Perempuan: it will be unable to do anything for lack of funds.
In light of the foregoing, the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) believes that government is still half-hearted about allocating funding to protect women and children and to enhance their welfare. FITRA urges that budget allocations to improve the lot of women and children should no longer be allowed to stagnate or to be focused merely on promotion of gender mainstreaming within ministries. The time has come for government to formulate programs that truly empower women by enhancing their economic rights and by providing them with better education and health.
Secretary-General, Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA)
Jakarta, 23 September 2012