The public sector demands greater political participation for women.

Women’s participation in positions at the House has increased over the past 24 years in Indonesia, but the percentage has never surpassed the required 30%.

Whether it has to do with the underrepresentation of women in politics or ingrained prejudice at the House of Representatives, civil society organizations are asking for an atmosphere that is more supportive of boosting women’s involvement in politics and lowering any preconceptions stopping it.

At a live-streamed talk in Jakarta over the weekend, Nurul Amalia Salabi, a scholar at the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), stated that finding more female candidates for the country’s parliamentary and administrative bodies has continued to be a struggle.

“By requiring a minimum 30 percent limit for women participation at the central executive board level among political groups, our Election Law has opened the way [for more women to be represented in politics]. But research has shown that in the run-up to elections, parties frequently ignore these demands,” Nurul said.

She went on to say that parties frequently turn to carelessly choosing women as members just to meet the requirements, like enlisting the spouses of public figures.

Women’s participation in positions at the House has increased over the past 24 years in Indonesia, but the percentage has never surpassed the required 30%. According to the United Nations, only after attaining that percentage can women have an impact on the decision-making procedures that affect policy. This is why 30% is a “sacred” number.

According to recently compiled data from Kompas daily’s research and development department (Litbang), women’s representation at the House only reached 9 percent from 1999 to 2004—equal to 44 women—but it increased to 10.7 percent (65 women) from 2004 to 2009, followed by 17.6 percent (100 women) from 2009 to 2014, 17.7 percent (97 women) from 2014 to 2019, and 20.9 percent (120 women) from 2019 to 2024.

Female lawmakers also encounter sexism and discrimination, according to Nurul, who cited a case in which women at House Commission II, which oversees domestic affairs, were given less room to express their opinions than their male counterparts, particularly during discussions on redistricting Papua’s newest provinces.

Bivitri Susanti, a constitutional law specialist from the Indonesia Jentera School of Law, called it “crucial” to give women a voice in policymaking because it opens the door for the addition of other disadvantaged groups’ views, like those of children and the handicapped community.

“Women must have political space,” she said, “not just in terms of the quantity represented, but also in terms of the quality of the political environment conducive to women’s participation.”

In the lack of laws mandating women to be given the chance to head political parties, Rizka Antika, a scholar at the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), urged political parties to give women more room to engage in politics.

In political organizations, Rizka said, “Women’s leadership needs to be promoted and backed, not just in the central headquarters but also in the area chapters.

In the past ten years, Indonesia has seen a rise in the number of women holding prominent positions in government and business. Examples include Social Affairs Minister Tri “Risma” Rismaharini, CEO of PT XL Axiata Dian Siswarini, and directors at the World Bank and the UN, Mari Elka Pangestu and Armida Alisjahbana.

While Puan Maharani, the daughter of Megawati Soekarnoputri, a former president and chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), currently serves as speaker of the House, many still view the appointment as symbolic and believe that women still have difficulty assuming other leadership roles in the legislature despite what may appear to be progress.