Women brings inclusive and gender-friendly elections

General Elections organizations have not implemented the rule of 30 percent representation of women as its commissioners. During the last three periods of management, the seats of the General Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) have been dominated by men. In both KPU and Bawaslu, the number of female commissioners is only one person. This clearly does not meet the 30 percent representation of women as regulated in Law Number 17 of 2017 concerning General Elections.

Hopefully,  this condition will not occur in the selection of commissioners at the provincial and city levels, which will end in 2023 and 2024. Titi Anggraini, the Advisory Council for the Election and Democracy Association (Perludem) believes that it is important for the elected KPU and Bawaslu commissioners to design regulations that can ensure the representation of women in the management, especially in the provincial and city levels. Jaring.id talked about this issue in an interview with Titi on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Below are the excerpts of the interviews.

KPU and Bawaslu commissioners at the regional level will change in 2023 and 2024. However, just like in the national level of the election organizations, the selection of commissioners was overshadowed by the lack of representation of women. What is your view?

The Law Number 17 of 2017 concerning General Elections regulates that the representation of women should be at a minimum of 30 percent. The law uses the phrase ‘pay attention to at least 30 percent’. There is no standard interpretation which may or may not be fulfilled. Technical rules are stipulated in the regulations of KPU and Bawaslu, which reaffirm that women’s representation of more than 30 percent is possible.

Considering that this has not been achieved, is there anything that can be done?

At this point, KPU and Bawaslu should be urged to encourage interpretation of the phrase “paying attention to 30 percent representation”. Both of the election bodies need to make technical regulations that can oblige women to become commissioners. Nevertheless, KPU and Bawaslu must reaffirm the 30 percent interpretation by making it mandatory. In addition, the selection stage must include 30 percent female representation. The national office of KPU and Bawaslu can make this happen because they have the authority.

Is there another way to make the regional offices of KPU and Bawaslu implement more than 30 percent representation?

In the recruitment process, the organizers actually put enough emphasis on women. They are actually able to consistently involve women. Various electoral community participation programs targeting women are capital for the recruitment. Based on these facts, we can see that there is no reason for the absence of resources as a factor in the unavailability of women as much as 30 percent. In addition, there are different styles of selection by KPU and Bawaslu at the national and the regional level. At the national level, there is a great conflict of interests because it involves political parties. But at the regional level, there is more opportunity to fulfill the 30 percent women representation because the authority lies with the KPU and Bawaslu.

Another thing is to encourage a selection team that has good representation of women. If the paradigm of the selection team is good, it will be easier to materialize the minimum representation of women. That motivation is reflected in alignments and paradigms.

Actually, there were quite a lot of candidates who took part in the selection. However, in the final stage, only one woman was chosen, do you think?

This is a record that must be evaluated. It has been an open secret that the political process in the House of Representatives is always marred with pragmatism. Why is it only one person being selected? This is strongly related to the weak political support in the parliament. It is an indication of a weak paradigm on women participation in the election.

For me, this means that the general election process is not yet fully inclusive. As if the minimalistic approach of the representation of one woman is enough. The real problem is the interests and paradigms, as well as the partiality that is not intact in supporting the 30 percent women representation. I think this is full of stigma as a value-free political process. There is no affirmative perspective at all. This is a big problem.

In addition, the word “pay attention” in Law Number 17 of 2017 concerning General Elections is not binding. It indicates a weak regulation. This loophole makes the House of Representatives ignore the affirmation in the selection process within the parliament.

When compared to countries in Asia, what is Indonesia’s position?

Timor Leste is quite good because the number of election organizers is more than one. Indonesia benefits only at the provincial and municipal level of the parliamentary institutions. At the national level, the participation of women remains low.

The Philippines shows similar conditions. Affirmation policy is not mandatory, but becomes the choice of volunteers. The permanent design in Indonesia actually provides better access to women’s participation than in Timor Leste, Myanmar, or Malaysia. There are larger and more open access to the positions. That’s the advantage of election organizers in Indonesia.

Can we say that Timor Leste and the Philippines already have awareness about women’s representation?

The Philippines and Timor Leste apply a simpler process. If you look at the Global Gender Gap index, the Philippines and Timor Leste are above Indonesia. This indicates that the situation is more friendly and open to women’s participation than in Indonesia.

So, how important is the role of women in organizing elections?

The presence of women provides better perspectives and needs in terms of gender, including the breakthroughs in technical regulations that provide gender inclusivity and fair competition. That is why, it is important for women to be present in the election administration.

Another example is that female election administrators will be able to manage budgets in a better way with an approach that can encourage a more inclusive and gender-just budget. In terms of paradigm and in the implementation of elections, this will have a follow-up impact on inclusive and gender-friendly electoral governance.

Overseas Voters’ Turnout Shrink

Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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