WLP-trained Candidates Elected to Indonesia People’s Consultative Assembly

This April twelve Indonesian women trained by WLP Indonesia/WYDII were elected to the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly, and will be sworn in this October. The elections were the first under a new quota system mandating at least 30% of each party’s ticket be comprised of women candidates. WYDII has using WLP trainings to build the capacity of women candidates, and working with other organizations on campaigns and initiatives in the run up to the election.      

Women running for office in Indonesia face numerous challenges including electoral processes and customs that favor established candidates, pervasive corruption, and political parties seeking to fill the quota with women candidates who agree to toe the party line. In order to meet these challenges, WYDII worked with WLP to develop a prototype capacity building institute, which debuted in November 2013.  The institute was based on WLP’s political participation and leadership curricula, Leading to Choices, Leading to Action, as well as Leading to a Culture of Democracy, WLP’s forthcoming training manual on advancing women’s rights during democratic transition. More than half of the participants were first time candidates with little experience regarding with politics or electoral campaigns. 

Initially many participants did not view themselves as viable candidates, and were hesitant to put significant effort into campaigning. However, after the institute they reported feeling a significant increase in confidence and a greater willingness to invest in their candidacy. Following the training, participants exchanged information and discussed campaign strategies across party lines, while WYDII maintained contact with the candidates through the election period. WYDII also collaborated with seven radio stations across East Java to host the women candidates on their programs.  In preparation for the radio interviews, WYDII conducting trainings on media engagement with the candidates.  

Ultimately, 17% of parliamentary seats went to women, 1% lower than 2009’s rate of 18%. Despite the modest results, hundreds of Indonesian women candidates ran for political office for the first time, showing the strength of their will and desire to participate in governance. In a post-election forum, one candidate trained by WLP observed, “Our presence in politics and our dreams cannot be realized instantaneously.  We must continue working and building strong networks.” Another noted “Though you may not be able to join the legislature today, you can still join NGOs, social organizations, and political parties…These organizations are places where you can sharpen your skills and play a political role.” WYDII reports that many women candidates, including those who were not elected, are maintaining their political presence, engaging on key issues, and increasingly viewed as serious political actors. 

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