Stories

Empowering Women Benefits All

By:

UN in Indonesia Country Team

Ibu Neflyn from a coastal community in Sulawesi used to rely on the income from her husband who makes his living fishing at sea. The income was infrequent and often not enough to cover basic needs. When the fishermen came back to shore, the women had to sell the fish at the local market within a few days before the fish would perish.

As a result, In Indonesia, 35% of all seafood is wasted due to long distances and lack of markets in remote regions. With support from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the United Nations in Indonesia, Ibu Neflyn and other women in the Tenggirii Fish Enterprise Group benefitted from assistance to produce higher-value seafood products such as dried fish-snacks, access markets in Indonesia and overseas and make waste products such as fish bones into valuable animal feed. As a result, the women now earn up to 5 million IDR per months and 503,500 people in 181 coastal communities around the country have benefitted from the programme.

In many parts of the world, the past year has seen an impressive number of women raising their voices in defence of their individual rights, and those of their family and community. Indonesia has an impressive history of women raising their voices in defence of their individual rights, from Kartini and her fight for girls education to recent Indonesian winners of the United Nations N-Peace Award and current women leaders in government, civil society and business. This year’s global theme for International Women’s Day focuses on the activism of rural and urban women and the UN in Indonesia joins all women in Indonesia in their quest for equality, human rights and dignity.

In Indonesia and around the world, in rural and urban areas alike, many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities—typically more than double the time spent by men and boys. Women who are excluded from formal employment opportunities often have little choice but to take lower paid jobs in the informal sector. This unequal division of labour is at the expense of women’s and girls’ learning and earning income resulting in in the low participation of women in the Indonesian labor force at 49% compared to 66% for men. Gender inequality, which manifests itself in practices such as child marriage and impedes girls from finishing their education and entering the formal workforce, costs the economy at minimum 1.7% of GDP every year. Indonesian girls living in rural areas are three times more likely to marry before age 18 compared to urban areas, leading to a cycle of poverty for girls and their children which hinders economic development for the country as a whole. We would like to see rights, decent work and employment opportunities expanded, as advancing women’s equality could boost the global GDP by US$12 trillion by 2025.

The Coastal Community Development Project (CCDP-IFAD)
has been developed jointly by Ministry of Marine Affairs
and Fisheries and IFAD

Indonesia is a leading global producer of palm oil, rubber, coffee, cocoa, spices, and tropical fruit, the world’s third largest producer of rice and the second largest fisheries producer in the world. Over one third of Indonesia’s population, and around 60% of the poor, rely on the agricultural and fisheries for their livelihood. Half of all Indonesian small and micro enterprises are in the agricultural sector. However, only 5% of formal lending goes toward agricultural production. Around 3 out of 4 agricultural workers have never used formal financial services. Rural women can be marginalized and often have even less access to financial resources, knowledge and technology to improve their yields and incomes.

All UN agencies, funds and programmes continue to support decent work and livelihood opportunities for women, financial inclusion and access to financial services in rural and urban settings, and advocacy to remove and amend discriminatory laws that hamper the full enjoyment of rights, including reproductive rights, and opportunities. There is a need to address social norms that address gender inequality so that all women and girls in Indonesia can lead full, healthy and productive lives free from violence and discrimination.

Acknowledging some of Indonesia’s truly impressive female leaders in government, civil society, business and academia, the UN believes that equal participation of women in all spheres is essential for the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Women and girls are critical to finding sustainable solutions to poverty, inequality and the recovery of the communities that are hit by disasters.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day with the global theme, Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives, let us celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs like Ibu Neflyn and ensure that all women have access to financial services, decent work opportunities and, and are free from social norms that perpetuate discrimination so that they can realize their full potential. The UN will support strengthening the collective voice, leadership and decision-making of all rural and urban women and girls.

UN in Indonesia Country Team is comprise of the Head/Representative of United Nations for Indonesia

This opinion piece was originally published in Jakarta Post Newspaper, 05 March 2018 

Click here to go the Jakarta Post Website

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