Gender Equality Context in Indonesia

Plan International / Crystaline Randazzo
Plan International / Crystaline Randazzo

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia (females 93.59% and males 97.17%). The country has put in place a number of laws, regulations and programmes that provide support to girls and women, including the Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN), one of the world’s largest national health insurance programmes. This currently provides free healthcare to almost 3/4 of the population and has included significant investments to reduce maternal mortality.

Legal barriers in some key areas, however, coupled with a patriarchal culture and religious conservatism, continue to prevent girls and women from fulfilling their rights. Tax and inheritance laws, for example, discriminate against women and legislation to protect women against sexual harassment and domestic violence is weak or goes unenforced.

According to the 2016 Women’s Health and Life Experiences Survey, one in three women aged 15-64 years in Indonesia reported that she had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime. Women also face legal barriers and discrimination in the economy: at 51% in 2017, Indonesia’s female labour-force participation rate was well below that for males (around 80%) and lower than average for countries at a comparable stage of development.

According to a recent study, the main drivers of low female labour force participation in Indonesia are marriage, having children under the age of two in the household, low educational attainment (below upper-secondary and tertiary levels) and a changing economic structure that has seen a decline in the sector of agriculture as a result of migration from rural to urban areas, in particular.