Cover Story / October 2018


Megawati Sukarnoputri

PDI-P Leader, Former President

As chairwoman of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Megawati Sukarnoputri is one of the most powerful women in the country. The former president continues to defend the principles ensconced in Pancasila, Indonesia's official state ideology promulgated by her late father, President Sukarno, in 1945. Compared with previous years, she has scaled down her public appearances so far this year. However, she did attend the 2018 Asian Games, where she was seen sharing a joke with Prabowo Subianto, the leader of the opposition.

Iriana Joko Widodo

First Lady

Indonesian first lady Iriana Joko Widodo prefers maintaining a low profile and allowing her husband to take center stage. She exemplifies a traditional Javanese woman in fully supporting her husband's career. The mother of their three – Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Kahiyang Ayu and Kaesang Pangarep – has won praise from many quarters as a symbol of simplicity, dedication and wisdom. Iriana also helps promote women's role in society by supporting craft and other creative industries. She also plays an active role in improving Indonesia's human development, particularly in education and health care.

Mufidah Kalla

Second Lady

Mufidah Miad Saad is the wife of Vice President Jusuf Kalla. She was born in Sibolga, North Sumatra, in 1943 and met Kalla while in high school in Makassar. The couple married in 1967 and has five children – Muchlisah, Muswirah, Imelda, Solichin and Chaerani. Besides supporting the family, Mufidah also heads the Indonesian Craft Council (Dekranas), which supports the country's creative industries, promotes high-quality workmanship and encourages cooperation among various organizations.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Finance Minister

Sri Mulyani Indrawati is a former managing director of the World Bank. Indonesia's Ministry of Finance has become more professional, accountable and transparent under her leadership. She has received praise for leading the government's tax amnesty program, widely acknowledged as one of the most successful exercises of its type. However, Sri Mulyani is no stranger to criticism, such as on rising national debt. She has dismissed these criticisms, pointing out that the debt level is well below that of many other countries, including developed economies, and that it must be seen in the context of Indonesia's expanding gross domestic product. Sri Mulyani received the Best Finance Minister award from Euromoney Magazine, in addition to several other prestigious accolades. She will be the center of attention when Indonesia hosts the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Nusa Dua, Bali, this month. Sri Mulyani has become more active on social media lately. She is also a member of Elek Yo Band‎‎, a music group comprising several members of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's cabinet.

Rini Soemarno

State-Owned Enterprises Minister

Rini Soemarno is one of Indonesia's most powerful cabinet ministers in her role as overseer of the country's state-owned enterprises. This year, she implemented the long-discussed plan to create holding companies for state-owned enterprises, such as the elevation of aluminum smelter PT Inalum to become a holding company for the country's various mining interests. This new holding company will take a leading role in gaining control of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia. Rini also appointed Nicke Widyawati as president director of state energy company Pertamina. The minister, who was born and educated in the United States, is the daughter of a Sukarno-era finance minister and central bank governor. She played a prominent role in the business community before becoming minister of industry and trade under former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Puan Maharani

Coordinating Human Development & Culture Minister

Puan Maharani is the daughter of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri. She is currently the coordinating minister for human development and culture, a key position responsible for the development of government programs in the labor, education, health care and cultural sectors. Her duties include ensuring that all Indonesians have proper access to public health services and that education budgets are well managed. Puan also plays a substantial role in her mother's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which she represented in the House of Representatives before becoming a minister. She is the leading candidate to someday replace Megawati as leader of the PDI-P.

Retno Marsudi

Foreign Minister

As Indonesia's first female foreign minister, Retno Marsudi has launched many successful diplomatic initiatives. Born in Semarang, Central Java, on Nov. 27, 1962, she is a career diplomat who has served as Indonesia's ambassador to the Netherlands, Norway and Iceland over the years. Retno is the recipient of the 2017 United Nations Agent of Change Award for Champions of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment for her contribution to the promotion of sustainable development and the protection of human rights. Retno graduated with a degree in international relations from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta in 1985. She is married to Agus Marsudi, an architect. The couple has two sons, Dyota and Bagas.

Susi Pudjiastuti

Fisheries Minister

As the most popular minister in the current government, Susi Pudjiastuti maintains a tough line on illegal fishing, insisting that Indonesia must enforce respect to prevent foreign entities from taking advantage and robbing the country of its rich maritime resources. She claims to have made significant advances by increasing fish production and improving the welfare of the nation's fishermen. She has at times faced off with the international community by promoting the concept of "ocean rights" to protect the maritime potential of every country. She has brushed off threats from powerful crime syndicates operating in the fishing industry and ordered the scuttling of more than 200 foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in the country's waters. However, not all her actions have been popular, with fishermen protesting her ban on the use of trawl nets and her ban on exports of undersized lobsters.

Tri Rismaharini

Surabaya Mayor

As the mayor of Surabaya in East Java, Tri Rismaharini has won both international awards and public recognition for serving her people while also forging ahead with efforts to make Indonesia's second-largest city more livable. While she has often been mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office, Bu Risma, as she is popularly known, has preferred to stay put and complete her second term as mayor rather than vie for another position. Risma maintains strict policies to improve Surabaya, which has become more beautiful and greener in recent years.

Khofifah I. Parawangsa

East Java Governor

Khofifah Indar Pawawansa resigned from her post as social affairs minister to successfully contest this year's East Java gubernatorial election. She represents women in high office and remains an important national figure, maintaining close links with the community in East Java. She played an important role in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's election victory in 2014. Khofifah surprised many who predicted that she would lose the gubernatorial election against Saifullah Yusuf. She teamed with Emil Dardak, a younger breed of politician, whom observes say was a deciding factor for East Java's younger voters.

Yenny Wahid


As radical Islamic movements try to erode religious tolerance in Indonesia, Zannuba Ariffah Chafsoh Rahman Wahid, popularly known as Yenny, continues to promote a moderate interpretation of Islam as the basis for Indonesia's pluralism. She has many supporters, not least members of the "Gusdurian" community, who are followers of her late father, former President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was also an important religious figure in the country. Yenny and the pro-tolerance movement insist on actively promoting dialogue among all parties and organizations to emphasize the importance of Pancasila, the official state ideology. Her Wahid Institute tracks acts of intolerance and its annual rating of abuses of the freedom of religion and expression is closely watched. She worked as a journalist for Australia's Fairfax Media and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is married to politician Dhohir Farisi, a member of Prabowo Subianto's Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

Eva Kusuma Sundari

PDI-P Politician

Eva Kusuma Sundari is a rare breed of female politician-cum-activist with a solid background in academia and activism, which allows her to play a prominent role in raising contemporary political issues. She backs her arguments with empirical data, unlike many other politicians, who often make wild assumptions. She studied development economics at Airlangga University in Surabaya before obtaining master's degrees in development studies from both the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and Britain's Nottingham University. She is a leading member of Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), with extensive experience in the national legislature, representing her hometown, Nganjuk, East Java. Eva is responsible for nurturing party support and recruiting volunteers.

Nila F. Moeloek

Health Minister

Dr. Nila Djuwita Farid Moeloek has a huge responsibility as manager of Indonesia's public health sector – a national development priority. The media is supportive of her role to promote health care as she tirelessly calls on the public to adopt healthier lifestyles. She obtained a medical degree in ophthalmology from the University of Indonesia and became a specialist ophthalmologist in 1998. She then devoted herself to her Ph.D., which she earned cum laude in 2003. She became a professor at her alma mater four years later and either authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers and five books.

Yohana Susana Yembise

Women Affairs Minister

Yohana Susana Yembise is responsible for both women's empowerment and child protection and performing her duties she combines a solid academic and professional background in the education sector with experience in activism. As a scholar, she has won various awards and accolades and as minister, she manages government policy on issues women's health, women in the workplace, migrant workers and the women's rights, as well as efforts to protect children from poverty and violence. Born in Manokwari, Papua, on Oct. 1, 1958, she is a professor at her alma mater, Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, Papua, and obtained a master's degree from Simon Fraser University in Canada. She also obtained a Ph.D. from Newcastle University in Australia in 2006. Yohana and her husband Leo Danomira have three children – Marcia, Dina Maria and Bernie.

Nurhayati Assegaf

Democratic Party Deputy Chairwoman

Nurhayati Ali Assegaf is an important figure in former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party. As deputy chairwoman, she is responsible for membership development strategies. The daughter of seasoned politician Ali Assegaf inherited her father's prodigious political skills. She was a driving force behind the once-powerful ruling party. Nurhayati was active in various spheres, including migrant care, women's issues and international relations, before becoming a politician and lawmaker. While raising a family, she also worked as a financial consultant for a network of companies based in Britain, Canada and Singapore. She also owned PT Srikandi Murni Mandiri, a trading firm specializing in asphalt imports. Nurhayati is known as an excellent communicator and a staunch proponent of party unity.

Airin Rachmi Diany

South Tangerang Mayor

Airin Rachmi Diany maintains a solid support base in Tangerang, Banten, despite her husband, Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, serving a prison term for corruption. The former West Java beauty queen was re-elected with a strong majority in 2016 for a second term at the helm of the fast-developing region. Born in Banjar, West Java, on Aug. 28, 1976, Airin played an active role in the Golkar Party from a young age. She attended Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung, West Java. Airin has successfully developed South Tangerang into a sprawling commercial, manufacturing and residential hub. The region has seen significant growth during her first term in office, although residents continue to grumble about the state of the roads. She has two children.

Rosarita Widiastuti

Director General: Public Information and Communication

Rosarita Niken Widiastuti's solid experience at the national radio service, Radio Republik Indonesia, was the foundation for her appointment as director general of public information and communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. As an announcer and executive at RRI, Niken helped to modernize the radio service and create a strong listening base among younger people. Born in Yogyakarta on Oct. 30, 1960, she obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in social and political sciences from Gajah Mada University. Having spent most of her career at RRI, Niken received a United Nations Women's Award for her successful programs on education and the empowerment of Indonesian women. This year, she is concentrating on the ministry's efforts to contain the spread of fake news and hate speech on the internet.

Basaria Panjaitan

KPK Commissioner

Basaria Panjaitan has played a prominent role at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as it is still probing massive corruption in the Rp 2.3 trillion ($155 million) electronic national identity card project. The two-star police general has played an active role in the prosecution and jailing of former Golkar chairman Setya Novanto, who served as speaker of the House of Representatives at the time. Basaria is the KPK's first female commissioner and she has a long career in law enforcement. She graduated from the National Police Academy's School of Law in 1984 before obtaining a master's degree in economic law from the University of Indonesia. Her career included spells as head of the National Police's narcotics divisions in Bali and West Java, and leading investigator in the special crimes directorate of the National Police's Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim).

Dewi Aryani

PDI-P Politician

Dewi Aryani is a stalwart of Megawati Sukarnoputri Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), She has headed both the party's women's affairs and business departments. Dewi returned to the House of Representatives after a fellow party member's ousting for corruption. She oversees health care, education and social welfare. She was deputy chairwoman for oil and gas at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and a shareholder in a company operating in that sector. Dewi is also a talented singer. She studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management in 2011 and obtained a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Indonesia in 2012.

Grace Natalie



Grace Natalie has taken a bold step into the world of politics as founder and chairwoman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which claims to represent a new generation of politicians. Grace is a graduate of the Institute for Business and Informatics, having majored in accounting. After completing her studies, she joined SCTV as presenter of its flagship news program, Liputan 6, which covered crime, politics, business and current affairs. She moved to ANTV three years later and then to tvOne, before resigning in 2012 to become chief executive of Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting. In 2014, her political ambition led her to establish her own party, which backs the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, in the upcoming presidential election.