International Women’s Day commemorated in Manado and Semarang

Tempo Interactive – March 8, 2004
International Women's Day rally in Semarang (Tempo)
International Women's Day rally in Semarang (Tempo)

Verrianto Madjowa and Dian Yuliastuti, Manado – International Women’s Day (IWD), which falls on March 8, was also commemorated in Manado, North Sulawesi. Distributing leaflets, scores of women’s activists gathered at the Manado National Unity Park. “This is an effort to arouse a critical awareness so that that women are treated justly”, said the manager of the Manado Swara Parangpuan program, Vivi George, on Monday March 8.

According to Vivi, the objective conditions for women in Indonesia at the moment are far from favorable. This has been worsened by the lack of government attention on women’s issues. Furthermore, discrimination against women still occurs frequently.

This discrimination against women not only occurs in the area of wages and employment, but also in cases of violence in the home and workplace. “This commemoration is to liberate women so that they are not just considered as a objects in society”, said Vivi.

Vivi said that during this year’s commemoration of IWD they would also be organising crisis education on the dangers of dengue fever. These activities which are being jointly organised by the North Sulawesi Department of Health will be held at Tumumpa and the Texas kampung at the Market 45 Complex.

In Semarang, Central Java, a number of student groups, mass organisations, women’s non-government organisations and even political parties participated in the commemoration of IWD. The first of two peaceful action was organised by the Women’s Day Coordinating Committee which is made up of a number of groups.

The demonstrators began their action at the Baiturrahman Mosque then circled the Simpang Lima roundabout. While giving speeches, around 50 demonstrators then distributed leaflets and flowers to passing drivers and street vendors. “Just look at how women continue to be oppressed, they are the social group which suffers under the heaviest burden. Look also at the various women’s activities which have never been given any significant legal or policy protection by the state”, said Yuli from the Diponegoro University.

In a statement they demanded greater access and opportunities for women in all areas of life. They also demanded the cancellation of all regulations and laws which significantly discriminate against women. At the same time they also touched on the issue of the 30 per cent quota for women candidates in the elections which they said does not provide an answer to women’s problems. They demanded that existing policies on women be clarified, be more explicit and detailed.

Even the Prosperity and Justice Party held a peaceful action on the day distributing flowers and praying for peaceful elections. The demonstration, which was joined by no less than 150 women party members from the party lead by Hidayat Nurwahid, held the action in front of the Diponegoro Statue on Jalan Pahlawan Semarang.

In their statement they touched mostly on the many conflicts which occurred in Central Java during the previous elections. The women party members therefore prayed that the coming campaign and elections would proceed peacefully.

[Translated by James Balowski.]