WHO'S WHO / October 2019

Women and the Youth are the Owners of Indonesia’s Future

The government continues to encourage female participation in public life. For example, the law requires 30 percent of the legislative candidates political parties field in elections to be women. At the same time, young people are also being encouraged to become more actively involved in the political process, to prepare themselves for leadership positions later. The role of women and the youth was apparent in the country’s elections since 2014 and they have, in various ways, positively contributed to the political process.

Despite this, House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo says women are still underrepresented. Only 21 percent, or 117 of the 575 lawmakers elected to the national legislature this year, are women. But this is still a slight improvement over the 17 percent of five years earlier.

Indonesia also made political history this year with the election of young politicians – some of them below the age of 30 – on a regional and national level. Twenty-three-year-old Muhamad Rahul of Prabowo Subianto’s opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) won 58,000 votes in Riau Province. Rahul follows in the footsteps of his father, M. Jamil, a lawmaker who has been active in politics for many years. It is a similar case with Puteri Komarudin, the 26-year-old daughter of seasoned Golkar Party politician Ade Komarudin. Although their parents’ status may have benefited them, these two young politicians have shown that people can play active roles in politics from an early age.

Diana Widyastuti, member of Golkar’s campaign team, says the increasing involvement of women and the youth in leadership positions and in decision-making processes has enriched Indonesia’s democracy. She believes the only way to groom leaders is by giving them the proper training and encouragement to develop their skills.

During the International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Baku, Azerbaijan, in early September, Diana proudly highlighted Indonesia’s achievement of organizing the 2019 simultaneous presidential and legislative elections. She was especially proud of the considerable role women and the youth played in making this a success. Diana could also show the world that Indonesian women are advancing in terms of political expression.

The conference not only saw political parties from 21 countries in Asia exchange ideas and share their experiences in organizing elections, but also included discussions on strategic efforts to encourage greater involvement by women and young people in public life. According to Diana, Indonesians had become increasingly more enthusiastic in following the election process, whether at local or national level, since the return of democracy in the world’s fourth most populous nation.

Diana has long been active in politics and played a prominent role in influencing the political agenda to emphasize greater participation by women and the youth. She was Indonesia’s sole representative at the conference, which was officially opened by Ali Javad Ahmadov, deputy prime minister of Azerbaijan.

In her presentation, Diana said greater involvement by women and young people in Indonesia’s two most recent elections had not only seen more of them becoming legislative candidates, but also joining campaign teams and playing other significant roles in the political process.

“During the campaign period and on election day, millennials and women played active roles and participated in many positive activities. And through social media, they helped educate voters to choose better legislative candidates, for example. Women and the youth also worked together to combat political hoaxes, fake news and misuse of social media. They promoted Indonesia’s diversity and fought against primordial sentiment based on ethnicity or religion,” she said.

“Young people and women are the owners of Indonesia’s future, so they must be given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, to chart a new course beyond what we see and experience today, to Indonesia in the next century,” Diana said, adding that joining political parties and becoming active in politics are the best way to turn their dreams into reality.