Women Friendly Democracy
Women Friendly Democracy

Dzuriyatun Toyibah


Women's political representation throughout the world has generally increased quite significantly. In January 2019, women held 24.3 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide compared to 13.4 percent in 2000.

The representation figure of women in parliamentary institutions globally, which is less than a quarter of the total number of members of parliament, shows that the election of women to become members of parliament is still not in accordance with the standards of women's equality in politics.

Election-elections in Indonesia so far have not been friendly to women. In the 2019 elections, the number of women's representation in the DPR was 20.9 percent, up from 17.3 percent in the 2014 elections. The figure of 20.9 percent remains important because it is closer to the average figure for women's representation in parliament at the global level compared to previous elections. .

The proportional open-list electoral system and gender quota offer greater opportunities for women to win in legislative elections. The gap in electability between male and female candidates is quite high. The victory rate for women in 2019 is 3.69 percent (down from 3.93 percent in 2014), while for men it is 9.55 percent or 2.6 times higher.

The Congress of Indonesian Women Ulama (KUPI) will take place on November 20 2023, in collaboration with the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) and the Center for Gender Studies at the State Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta. One of the main agendas is responding to the current situation in Indonesian politics: whether the 2024 Election will produce political representation for women and democracy that is more gender equitable.


Potential and challenges

Data shows that the increase in women's political representation has had a positive impact and has pushed for innovative policies, improved institutional quality, and also reduced corruption.

However, systemic bias and discrimination against female political candidates is still very real.

The "supply and demand" theory used to explain the 2019 election situation is still relevant for predicting the 2024 election. From the supply and demand side, the party reasons that the problem is the difficulty of finding female candidates who meet their expectations.

Meanwhile, from the demand aspect, political parties also place the 30 percent quota issue as a ceremonial administrative matter because it is regulated by law.

The main orientation of political parties is how to get figures to raise votes (voter gathering), namely those who already have popularity. Likewise, the glass ceiling theory remains relevant considering that patriarchal attitudes are manifested in public opinion, such as considering that religious teachings do not allow female leaders; Women should only focus on household matters.

In addition, a challenge in the 2019 Elections is that women are elected not because of the expected outcome from a democratic process. Instead, the profile of women as representatives is signaled to be related to dynastic politics, where elected female members of parliament have close connections with current political leaders.

It is generally believed that financial issues are a crucial concern for the success of political candidates to win in the electoral contest. The cost of elections is very expensive because it requires candidates to reach out to every potential voter and ensure that they continue to vote for them through various campaign media that certainly require expenses.

Campaign activities with billboards, advertisements in mass media, mass face-to-face campaigns or door to door (door to door) certainly require a lot of money. Not to mention the campaign practice of distributing basic necessities, money, etc. which usually falls into the category of money politics (money politics).

Thus, politicians who have access to financial resources have a greater potential to be elected by the people. They are generally candidates who are close to the current political rulers.

These issues greatly disrupt the quality of democracy and are often disregarded by political leaders in Indonesia.

They interpret democracy narrowly, where what's important is having an election and having people who want to vote. The main focus is being able to hold power and continuing to maintain that power, so procedural democracy is trusted as a democratic mechanism.

They don't care about the substance of democracy and only remember it when their position is not advantageous. On the contrary, in situations as winners, democracy is used as claims that are, of course, narrated according to the interests of maintaining power.

It is not surprising that there are narratives that tolerate dynastic politics and money politics as something normal and acceptable in line with democracy. (Note: no forbidden words present in this article)

It is certainly very sad because women also have to adapt to the political reality. For those who cannot adapt, the likelihood of being able to survive is small.


“Amazing” victory

Despite the precarious state of democracy, remarkable victories must continue to be a shining light. One such example is the perseverance of women across different regions in the procedural game of democracy.

Political costs can be minimized by using strategies that can win the hearts of the voting public. For example, investing in social life, where the community is served well, so that those who have a good reputation will still have a place in society.

This is evident from the fact that not all politicians who utilize monetary politics can succeed in winning political contests.

The existence of the law on handling sexual violence that was successfully passed by the DPR has made Indonesia known as a country that is relatively friendly towards women.

Difficult problems related to the interpretation of religion that are often used to undermine women's rights can be balanced by the emergence of a religion-friendly understanding towards women. This is the contribution of women activists who usually join KUPI, in addition to the contribution of female legislative members elected in the 2019 election.

Victories that are almost like miracles still exist. Of course, it is hoped that such victories will become even more numerous in the 2024 election.

Amidst the challenges and pessimistic attitudes towards Indonesian democracy, these remarkable events need to be remembered in order to instill the belief that democracy and elections in Indonesia still have the potential to be inclusive towards women despite the heavy obstacles that exist.

Dzuriyatun Toyibah is Dean of FISIP Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta. Her article has published at KOMPAS Daily Newspaper, https://www.kompas.id/baca/english/2023/11/19/en-demokrasi-ramah-perempuan.