In Indonesia, Gender has always been a hot issue, an example is Indonesian law on broadcasting. There is an article that regulates censorship, which specifically focuses only on women, not men. They claimed that such regulation was made to protect women from anything undesirable. Women’s appearance, mainly the body part, is still being assumed as a threat, because it may arise sexual desire from the opposite gender. Furthermore, women are often seen as proficuous objects in advertisements targeting men. The bottom line is, the current law on broadcasting is inefficient in solving any problems, especially in protecting woman.
Similarly, there are much imbalance news in regards to prostitutes. They are the ones who receive most spotlight in every reported police raids. Nevertheless, the men using their service barely, if any, were put in the camera frame. The media makes it the women who are at fault for flirting the men. While in fact, it is never a mistake made by a sole party.
In our daily life, these gender inequalities and sexist regulations are barely noticed by the society at large. The government makes a separate space for woman in both train and bus. What about the men? Is every man stronger than women? What about a young boy who just had his surgery? In addition, when an elderly man and a young woman get into the bus together, it is highly likely, due to this regulation, an empty seat will be given to the woman. This shows that inequality may also occur against men.
Such regulation is altered from the very reason for this separation. This will not accomplish anything to cut any violence or sexual harassment in Indonesia, instead the ‘gap’ between two genders will remain.
Sexual harassment against women is one indicator for gender inequality. So how does it start in Indonesia? In the world?
Some people believe that patriarchy system which puts man in a more dominant position and power is the main reason for the repression against woman. Nevertheless, does it mean that matriarchy system provides a better safeguard against violence and sexual harassment?
Minang is an example of a tribe that apply a matriarchy system, yet during 2014, every week, four suffer from either sexual harassment or violence (http://minangkabaunews.com/artikel-7091-walah-4-perempuan-alami-kekerasan-di-sumbar-setiap-minggunya.html). This proves that both patriarchy and matriarchy do not prevent someone from conducting any sexual-related crimes.
Another example of gender inequality can also be seen in the industrial sector. We often found out the stereotypical point of view stating that the manager must be the man, because women are supposed to stay at home. There will always be a familial connection entailing a woman. There is a belief that balancing work-home responsibilities is a mission impossible for women. Similar view does not apply towards men.
McConnell-Ginet also found a discriminating attitudes towards women in the workplace. Women and men are often valued and evaluated differently due to existing stereotypical view. The female managers are often valued negatively by her subordinates when using ‘masculine attitudes’, such as being direct. On the other hand, their male counterparts are praised when applying ‘feminine attitudes’ such as being collaborative. In addition, female managers are often undervalued just because of their gender.
So what causes this inequality?
From above examples, it can be seen that gender inequality exists due to a different attitudes given towards men and women. Although attitude is an abstract value that can not be measured, we can directly observe it by seeing how women who focuses more on their career are usually judged negatively by her familiy. According to Peter Garrett, attitude is a fundamental part of what is learned through human socialization and greatly influenced by social stereotypes. Thus, it cannot be separated on how society view women and men.
Sometimes, this different attitude is inherited through the family. Therefore, a fundamental change is needed in order to promote gender equality.
So how to tackle this inequality culture? Education is the important starting point. An example can be seen from how Indonesian language emerges. Although it takes time, Bahasa is spread almost in every part of Indonesian area. The implementation of this language in education is the key. Similarly, we can apply the method to tackle gender equality. Although it will not abruptly change societal different attitudes towards each gender, a prevalent positive attitudes towards women can be made by inserting educational information about gender equality for the younger generation, especially in term of opportunities given.
Another direct solution is by empowering women through workshops. Examples can be found in Desa Bangi , Sewon, Bantul. In this village, a group of housewives who used to only baby sit their children are now able to increase family welfares through poultry. The training was given by a private company which also provide infrastructures needed for the husbandry. Now, not only these women are independent financially, the attitudes that expecting them only to baby sit the children and cook in the kitchen are gradually changing. This is a good example of how when an opportunity was given, women can obtain a successful worklife.
During my participation as Miss UMN, we made a ” Beauty is Me” campaign encouraging Indonesian women to love and appreciate themselves. I was also the Head of Public Relation of a youth organization that concerns on education, social awareness, and environment. In almost every event I was responsible as Head of Programming Division.
These prove that women are not only able to lead, but also be the influence to raise awareness regarding social problems in Indonesia.