Jakarta – Coinciding with Mother’s Day which falls on December 22 each year, hundreds of women marched to the State Palace in Central Jakarta to articulate demands related to women’s issues saying that government policies are still discriminative and do not support women. The action took up the theme Women Heal the Nation.
The march to the State Place was initiated by the Women’s Awakening Alliance (Aliansi Perempuan Bangkit) which was established activists, women’s and labour organisations.
The participants at the action began gathering at 8.30 am at the nearby Horse Statue in Central Jakarta. The march to the State Palace began at 9.30 am and was accompanied by speeches and ended with a series of events at Aspiration Park in front of the State Palace.
“The theme Women Heal the Nation means Indonesia at the moment is not okay. We are asking and demanding that the government acknowledge the contribution of women and that the position of women be strengthened”, said Valentina Sagala, one of the initiators of the march on Sunday December 22.
Specifically, Sagala explained that there were five demands being articulated during the action.
First, related to political concerns over the retreat of democracy. Second, demanding that the development agenda must accommodate the rights of the ordinary people, women, agricultural labourers, traditional communities and other marginal groups. Third, that past human rights violations be solved. Fourth, an end to the approach by the state which is ridden with violence such as forced evictions. Fifth, that women be acknowledged though the enactment of the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence (RUU-PKS).
“These five demands are urgent. They can’t be ignored, they must become a priority”, said Sagala.
The action was joined by a number of different organisations, one of which was the group Indonesian Feminists. Specifically, the organisation was demanding the provision of safe public space for women so that rape, sexual harassment, violence and the murder of women no longer occur.
“The current government is still far from [making any real] efforts to [accommodate] women. The RUU-PKS has been delayed and marginalised because the deliberations on the RUU-PKS keep being postponed, the state doesn’t accommodate the needs of women. The state must include gender perspectives in policy making”, said activist and Indonesian Feminists representative Dea Safira.
In addition to this, a representative from the Indonesia Breast-feeding Mothers Association (AIMI) – which also took part in the action – called on the government to give women the right to breastfeed.
“We are asking the government to provide pregnancy leave and firmly regulate formula milk so mothers and children can have the right to breastfeed”, said AIMI chairperson Nia Umar. (ptj/chs)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “5 Tuntutan ‘Ruwatan’ Perempuan di Hari Ibu”.]