“I think a lot of Indonesians would say we have received gender equality because girls can go to school or women can find decent jobs, but that statement is not looking deeper to the quality of life of women in Indonesia,” said Vivi.
“A lot of people would also say we have received gender equality because we have women representatives in the government.”
Despite the increasing women’s participation in government at all levels, Vivi sometimes questions who these women are representing. Fighting for women’s rights for years with the government still not being responsive towards, Vivi knows that Indonesia still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality.
“There are so many laws that are in the struggle to get passed and those are the laws that women and marginal communities desperately need. I mean, the protection of domestic workers' bill has been sitting on the national priority list for 17 years!” said Vivi.
Known locally as RUU Perlindungan Pekerja Rumah Tangga (RUU PRT), the bill contains protections for domestic workers' rights, including the introduction of a standardized minimum wage, regulated working hours, regular days off, and protection from mistreatment and violence.
Vivi is also concerned about how the House put brakes on the deliberation of laws that women desperately need, such as the sexual violence bill (known as RUU Penghapusan Kekerasan Seksual). The House claimed deliberation of the bill was “complicated”, even though lawmakers had never deliberated the legislation and had already deferred the discussion for years.
The sexual violence bill, if passed, would prohibit the criminalization of victimhood and would forbid law enforcement to blame or degrade victims or to saddle victims with the responsibility of searching for evidence in their own cases.
Feminism and the women's rights movement in Indonesia began during the colonial era under Dutch rule and were spearheaded by the national heroine Kartini. From then, Vivi acknowledged that there has indeed been progressing, but it also faces regress.
“Even if RUU PKS were to be passed, we were not just going to sit and cheer. That is definitely progress, but we still have a long way to go because we still have to watch and supervise its implementation and all of that stuff,” said Vivi.
“The increasing religious radicalism, for example, also contributes a lot for the set back of gender equality in Indonesia.”