Acehnese women demand to be involved in policy making

Aceh Kita – March 8, 2006
Women commemorate International Women's Day in Aceh (Potret Online)
Women commemorate International Women's Day in Aceh (Potret Online)

Radzie, Banda Aceh – Acehnese women are asking to be involved in the process of public policy making in Aceh. In addition to this they are also calling for the enforcement of Islamic law not just be for women but for crimes such as corruption.

These were the main issues voiced by Acehnese women during the commemoration of International Women’s Day at the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on Wednesday March 8.

The lack of women’s involvement in determining policies can be seen from the quotas in the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction 2005 budget where only 0.83 percent of funds are budgeted for women and children’s empowerment posts. This is despite the fact that the budget totals as much as 3 trillion rupiah.

“A policy will not have any significant influence when it does not accommodate important points related to the social and political rights of women”, they said in a statement. “To the policy makers, apply ideas of gender sensitivity and support women’s interests in the decision making process”.

They also asked the government to provide the broadest possible access to the public, particularly women, of information in order to understand the government programs and budgets in all areas of development.

During the action that was joined by thousands of women, they brought banners and posters with messages opposing violence, oppression and harassment against women. The action began in front of the Great Baiturrahman Mosque followed by a march to the DPRD. They also shouted slogans such as “Viva Women”, “Women unite for Acehnese peace” and the like.

Raihana Diani, the coordinator of the Women’s Organisation for Aceh Democracy (Orpad), said that the government’s attention to women’s issues in Aceh is extremely inadequate, including in the Draft Law on a Government for Aceh (RUU PA). However, “Comrades have been fighting to improve the RUU PA so it support improvements to women’s lives”, said Diani in a speech. “If conditions for women are good, thus Aceh will also be good”.

According to Diani, women’s issues in Aceh at the moment are complex. For example, the application of Islamic law in Aceh severely discriminates against women. “Islamic law has ostracised women in Aceh”, said Diani, to the applause of participants.

In a statement read out before M Gade Salam (a member of the Aceh DPRD who met with demonstrators), Acehnese women asked that Islamic law in Aceh be implemented fairly and be valid for all components without exception. “It must also be punishment for corrupters as violators of Islamic law”, they wrote in the statement.

In addition to this they also asked for a standardisation of Muslim clothing that is in accordance with and is socialised to the public so that violations do not occur against women and that the Wilayatul Hisbah (Islamic police) be made up of trusted, credible people with high moral standards that carrying out their duties in accordance with Islamic law. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]