Promoting gender equality by empowering women is smart economics and Australia is committed to support the neighboring countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including Indonesia, in achieving this.
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson launched on March 2 the “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy”, which focuses on three main priorities, namely: enhancing women’s voice in decision-making, leadership and peace-building, promoting women’s economic empowerment, and ending violence against women and children.
“Ensuring women and girls are equal, empowered, educated and employed is one of the most effective ways to achieve better living standards and higher economic growth,” Grigson said.
Globally, women remain poorer than men, so increasing women’s participation in economic life and ensuring that they equitably benefit from the economy important. Professor Caroline McFarlane, Vice Chancellor and President of Australia’s University of Newcastle, said that enhancing women’s participation in the economy is crucial to ensure a country’s development, and investing in women’s employment is essential to make sure that no talents and potential gone to waste.
Economic empowerment for women also means reducing exploitation and violence. At the event, Anis Hidayah, Executive Director of Migrant Care, who has been listed in Forbes magazine’s 10 most inspiring Indonesian women 2015, highlighted the myriad of women’s problems in Indonesia, including the issue of reproductive rights, women in parliament, and women migrant workers.
Indonesia has many unresolved problems regarding women’s basic rights, including child marriage and human trafficking. Female Genital Mutilation is another concern that in Indonesia is still a point of debate, pitting scientific studies and religious perspective. She highlighted the importance of the role of women in Parliament to prioritize national legislations that affect the lives of women.
Anis said Indonesian migrant workers are vulnerable to gender-based violence, while at the same time there are no efforts to ensure protection for domestic workers.
“Many Indonesian women are forced to migrate abroad because of extreme poverty, but their basic human rights are not always protected. Violence does not only occur in their receiving countries, but also in unfair process here and abusive treatments they receive at their dormitories before they are sent abroad,” she said.
To promote increased role of women in decision-making the Australian Government will continue its support for women’s organizations, networks, and coalitions particularly those giving voice to marginalized groups, including providing women access to the justice system.
The new strategy prioritizes on giving support to countries to increase women’s access to services when they experience violence. These include providing counseling, accomodation, legal and practical support to victims of violence; assisting governments to improve health sector and workplace to prevent violence against women; enabling social protection or social transfers; and ensuring proper responses to HIV and AIDS.
“How we work it out is a common challenge for both Indonesia and Australia. The key is making sure that we consciously think about women in everything we do,” Ambassador Grigson said.
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