Jurisdictions around the region have developed laws regarding equality of gender to varying degrees. the levels of progress can be illuminating
Women’s empowerment has become a significant socio-political factor for economic growth, political stability and social transformation in the modern world. Women’s economic empowerment refers to the ability of women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and wellbeing.
In Indonesia, Raden Ajeng Kartini is considered to have been a pioneer of women’s empowerment back in the Dutch colonial days. She advocated for women to be able to access education when it was still prohibited, because of the expectation at that time that women should only become housewives and take up the role of a caregiver to the family.
Nowadays, more than a century after Raden Ajeng Kartini’s time, women in Indonesia have made significant strides in various areas. Improvements have been recorded in health, education, labour force engagement and political participation. Credit must be given to the Indonesian government for its commitment to addressing gender inequality. Policies on gender equality and empowerment of women have been adopted at several levels, such as:
- At the international and national levels, through the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women with Law No. 7 of 1984;
- At the national level, through the People’s Consultative Assembly (the highest political body in Indonesia) Decree Number IV/MPR/1999 on the Broad Guidelines of State Policy 1999-2004;
- The establishment of National Machinery for the Advancement of Women in a 1978 Presidential Decree;
- Law No. 25 of 2000 on the National Development Programme;
- Presidential Instruction No. 9 of 2000 on Gender Mainstreaming in National Development;
- National Action Plan for the Elimination of Violence Against Women;
- Inclusion of gender-mainstreaming policy in 38 programmes of the National Development Programme (2000-2004)
- Law No. 12 of 2003 on General Election, under which each political party participating in a general election should consider having at least 30% women representation in the nomination of its members for national, provincial and local representative councils.
In some workplaces in Indonesia, gender bias may remain strong, despite many companies’ best efforts to promote diversity and equality. Concrete policy initiatives need to be implemented, and more diverse and successful teams need to be created to unlock the full potential of the workforce, as gender diversity has been proven to improve team performance and success.
According to the theme of the International Women’s Day this year, which is #BalanceforBetter, many initiatives and policies can be implemented within the workplace to help women workers in the workforce.
In Indonesia, women workers often have to choose between their career and family. Most of them leave their jobs when they become mothers because they do not get sufficient support on meeting the needs of their children and families.
These women may also turn down leadership positions or quit their jobs, even when they have been identified as highly talented, which is a wasted opportunity for both the individual and the organization.
As one of the leading law firms in Indonesia, HHP Law Firm has embraced women empowerment since the very beginning. HHP Law Firm was established by two strong female lawyers, Sri Indrastuti Hadiputranto and Tuti Hadinoto, who were both supporters and believers that women and men were created equal.
The motto of this year’s International Womens Day, #Balanceforbetter, has been embedded in our DNA since early on. As a firm, we support gender equality in the workplace and equal opportunity for both men and women workers to build their careers within the firm. This is because we believe that companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, to improve and optimize organizational effectiveness and growth.
As one of many companies that have supported empowerment of women in the workplace, one of the solutions that our firm can provide is having infrastructure in the workplace to support young mothers, such as a lactation room. Research has proven that breastfeeding is the optimal way of feeding infants in their early years. Therefore, to ensure that children receive the best possible treatment, it is of utmost importance that the organization gives breastfeeding support to working mothers in the workplace.
Our firm is also in discussion about providing childcare facilities, whether within the firm or in co-operation with other nearby childcare facilities. This will benefit working mothers to balance their work and their family life.
HHP Law Firm has also introduced flexible work arrangements. These include allowing employees to work any eight hours of the day (not strictly from 9am to 5pm), to work reduced hours, or to work remotely, which could be at home or at another place closer to their home. Many employees, especially women employees, have benefited from these schemes.
For working mothers, these schemes give them time to drop their children to school or to pick them up from school. Not only does this make people more productive and improve their overall performance, but it also helps them to achieve the level of work-life harmony they desire.
Other support that organizations can provide is offering equal and attractive opportunities for learning and development, as well as career progression to women employees. We understand that in addition to facing institutional obstacles, women likely face a battle from within.
Insecurity at work is generally seen as a personal foible. The feeling of insecurity makes it difficult for women to make their voices heard. Other than insecurity problems, for some women, embarking on a leadership path in their career can seem like a difficult journey. Although women have made great strides in the workplace, inequality and double standards still exist, and these types of challenges can stifle a woman’s desire to strive for a leadership position.
One of the programmes that the firm introduced to overcome insecurity at work, and to offer equal opportunities for both men and women workers, is in the form of mentorship programmes, which provide the opportunity for female employees to express their concern or challenges at work in a private setting.
Through the power of mentoring, all employees have the same access to opportunity, regardless of their gender and age. We also address the challenges that a diverse workforce can face, and provide solutions for these challenges. With mentorship programmes, women are given a chance to push forward in their careers, where traditionally men have been more present.
Multi-rater reviews like 360-feedback tools can also be adopted to identify the training needs of female employees. It can heighten self-awareness on the necessary competencies required to attain career advancement. This is also useful in uncovering hidden strengths that a female employee may have, but is unaware of.
To show the firm’s commitment in this area, the firm has also established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is tasked to think about and create programmes or initiatives that could provide better support for, among other things, women empowerment and gender equality. Therefore, for the firm, this is a continuous journey for the betterment of the workplace.
Hadiputranto Hadinoto & Partners (HHP Law Firm)
Pacific Century Place, Level 35
Sudirman Central Business District Lot 10
Jl. Jendral Sudirman Kav.52-53 , Jakarta 12190
Tel: +62 21 2960 8888
Fax: +62 21 2960 8999