Background

Since the reform era, affirmative action for women in politics has been pushed forward politically and incorporated into the Election Law in 2004, which provided a quota for women of one third of elected seats. However, the challenge to women’s political representation is stubborn. In 2008, the Constitutional Court revoked the law. After the setback, the promotion of women in politics was restarted, in 2012, with the electoral regulation requiring at least every third nominee to be a woman.

In order to allow the political parties to participate in the election with a pleasing image, political parties have tried to fulfill the quota regulation. However, that does not mean the political parties are willing to fully open the door to qualified women. Many women are set to be there just a matter of fulfilling the administrative requirement, instead of carrying the mandate to open the door for women’s representation in politics. The fluctuation of laws to promote women’s inclusion in politics is evidence of the patriarchal mindset of politicians who want to sabotage or subordinate women. In many cases, instead of empowering women in politics, regulations are used to equip male politicians to enhance their political capital.

This is primary the reason why WYDII is ardent in supporting women legislative candidates to better equip in running for their legislative seat of 2014. WYDII held a workshop with the candidates from East Java in Surabaya and several meetings with the candidates of North Sulawesi in Manado. The meeting in Manado was facilitated by one of the most influential NGO in Manado, Swara Parangpuan.

Attendees

The first assessment was conducted in Manado (North Sulawesi Province) on the 18th of August and the second session was conducted in Surabaya (East Java Province). The first assessment, WYDII collaborated with Swara Parangpuan, hosted by Lily Djenaan the Director of the Swara Parangpuan. The session was attended by 14 women candidates who run for town, provincial and national legislatures. Numbers of them have run before.

Based on the first session in Manado, we decided that having a formal session could provide a greater sense of direction to the candidates. In this session we have invited two speakers, the first speaker was Atoillah and the second speaker was Eko Sasmito. Mr. Atoillah is an experience lawyer who has litigated numbers of election violation cases, and Eko Sasmito is the Head of the Election Commission of Surabaya. The second session were held on the 22nd of August in Surabaya. This session attended by 32 women candidates, whom many of them have run before. Similarly, participants in this session also running for varies level legislature, from town level to national level.

In both sessions, clearly we can feel a sense of enthusiasm as well as a great sense of anxiety from the participants. As number of them have experienced terrible situation in the past due to their lack of political anticipations and calculations. In the mean time, numbers first time candidates were wrapped up with an immense sense of uncertainty.

Modalities Required for Women Candidates

To identify the modalities required for women candidates, participants break up into group discussions. These are the modalities they have identified; a great mental and physical health throughout the course of the campaign, honesty, dedicated, wide network, financial support, logistical need—catchy banner, flyer, ability to present a better image in public, communication skills, strong base in the community, ability to deliver purposeful issues, strong understanding of election laws and regulations, better grasp on the election procedures, a confidence and support from the parties.

Most Challenging Modal

The most concerning situation for women candidates were their inability to get full support from their own party. The most traumatic cases experienced by numbers of the candidates who have their votes stolen by other candidates (often by male candidates, sometime female candidates as well) from their own party.

Mostly, cases of votes stealing occurred because the votes are designated first to the party, not to the candidates. Most parties will listed candidates away more than the number of the contested seat, and that conditioned the candidates have to compete against one another, not only with those candidates from other parties but more strenuously, they also have to compete with their own peers within the party to the same constituencies. The regulation is also stated that any unclear votes casted in the ballot by the voters to the certain candidates would be first designated to the party, which later decided by the party to whom these votes will be given. Technically, any unclear votes will be given to the candidates based on the numbering of the party’s list. Consequently, this regulation gives an immense window to corruptions and votes stealing. Given these complicated election procedures, these are the most challenging issue identified for women candidates in this workshop.

• The need for a greater understanding on the Election Law and election procedure

• The need for a greater understanding to complain mechanism

• The need to understand the procedure to provide/to obtain evidence of violations

• An absolute need to monitoring votes and to access accountable witnesses

• The need for a greater ability to connect with the media

The Strategy

Some of the strategies that women candidates have planned to or some have been already been doing are: Meeting with religious leaders, meeting with workers, professional groups, religious groups, women groups, intensive interaction with the constituencies, speaking to media, participate training and workshop to enhance their sense of confidence about the Election Laws and election procedures.

Conclusion

The Legislative Election will be held in April 2014. Participants are eager to enhance their ability and to develop a greater sense of solidarity among women candidates across party lines. There has been great expectation to meet again to assist and empower their sailing to the path of 2014 struggle. We are hoping to meet again formally in November of 2013 and in January of 2014.

*The report summarized by WYDII’s Team (Mardiko Saputro, S Jai, Tini Septiasih, Siti Nurjanah and Erma Susanti).