Gender gap in employment

How to Close the Gender Gap in Employment?

There must be policy dominance in the offer to increase female labor force participation. Access and facilities such as education must be maximalized and the provision of jobs that allow women to work while supporting a family can also help.

Gender gap at work in Indonesia has become a concern. The research done by Lisa Cameron, Diana Contreras Suarez, and William Rowell shows that Indonesia’s economic development as the largest in Southeast Asia and 16th in the world is not proportional to the increase in the participation rate of women in Indonesia

The participation of Indonesian women aged 15 years and over in the workforce reached 51.4%. Which has not seen any significant change in the last two decades. Due to the large gender gap between the participation of women and men as workers in Indonesia. 

Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP) is considered an important indicator to improve. Because it will affect the gender gap that occurs. Starting from political representation, having a greater voice in household decisions, to reducing the number of domestic violence.

Single women in their productive age tend to participate actively in the workforce until retirement. Meanwhile, women who are married, have children, and have low education increase the enrollment rate after the age of 40. However, shifts in cultural norms, especially in urban areas, have shown a higher participation rate in the workforce by young women than previous generations. 

Even with this increase, the projections from the research model conducted by Cameron, et al. stated that it is unlikely that Indonesia will achieve the G20 commitment to reduce the gender gap between male and female workforce participation by 25% by 2025.

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There must be a dominance of policies in the offer to increase FLFP, where access and facilities such as education must be maximized, especially for rural women. The provision of jobs that allow women to work while supporting the family can also help.

In a comparison of ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, South Korea) FLFP levels in 1995 and 2017. Indonesia is among the countries with the lowest FLFP. The range is similar to Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Korea and Japan. 

From various studies on economic growth and FLFP in India and Latin America. It is concluded that an increase in FLFP is associated with an increase in the level of education. And a decrease in the fertility rate of women. 

Economic changes will have minimal impact on women’s participation. Through Schaner and Das’ research using data from the Indonesian National Labor Force Survey (SAKERNAS) for 21 years. The focus was on birth group, educational attainment, geography, and type of work. 

This research shows that young women in urban areas experience an increase in wage labor participation. However, rural women experience a decrease in labor force participation due to leaving informal / unpaid work.

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In the late 1990s, male and female participation peaked or similar. Then, the participation rate of women decreased because they were married, had children, and depended on their families. For men, being married and having children increases their probability of entering the labor market. 

Comola and de Mello’s research, ‘The Determinants of Employment and Earnings in Indonesia: A Multinomial Selection Approach’, shows that women who are highly dependent on the household are less likely to have jobs in the formal sector. And tend to be more inactive than women, who have low dependency, and FLFP decreases during a woman’s most fertile years. 

FLFP increases when women are in the post-child-rearing phase (45-49 years). The main drivers of FLFP are marital status, number of children aged 0-2 in the household, educational attainment, and the (women-oriented) village industrial structure. Household status which tends to reduce FLFP rates also comes from the patriarchal culture that has developed in Indonesia.

The Impact of Patriarchal Culture

Patriarchal culture places subordinated women in male-dominated industries. This happens because of the stereotypes that have developed regarding patriarchal aspects in social society. Namely that women are associated with domestic work. Women are considered to have a dual role in earning a living and managing the household. It is realized that the involvement of women in the public sector cannot be separated from habits and family life. 

Judging from the controversy over the Job Creation Law, it can be seen that there is a patriarchal value in it. Namely how women’s reproductive work is neglected and women workers are a vulnerable group that has no power. Termination of Employment (PHK) when female workers apply for maternity leave is also one of the effects of the feudal-patriarchal aspect in the work environment.

The Law on Crime of Sexual Violence (TPKS) requires a long debate before it is finally passed as a regulation to optimally deal with violence and sexual harassment. 

All of the rights of women workers have not been fulfilled because of internal factors. Namely the lack of education and understanding of women workers about their rights. 

External factors, namely the marginalization of women in the world of work; lack of outreach and advocacy; and stereotypes due to patriarchal culture. This leads to the appearance of gender gap in employment.

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Patriarchal culture influences the social system and can originate from religious values ​​or community culture that develops and sticks to the house. Women in community culture fill a subordinate position in the family. So this culture has an impact on taking responsibility for men, which makes men feel that they must be given a higher position. This underlies discrimination against women workers and women in general.

In addition, the implementation of regulations that have not been optimal is also an issue that underlies discrimination against women workers. For example, the implementation of CEDAW is not optimal. 

In 2018, Komnas Perempuan criticized how CEDAW was not optimal in eliminating sexual violence against women. CEDAW was ratified by Indonesia through RI Law No. 7 of 1984, which made Indonesia responsible for submitting implementation reports to the CEDAW Committee at the United Nations. However, Indonesia last sent a report in 2012, and did not make a report in 2016. So the CEDAW Committee cannot assess progress on women’s human rights in Indonesia or provide recommendations.

Based on Komnas Perempuan’s records in 2018, violence against women continues and the response to handling cases and recovering for victims is minimal. Child marriage is also still being confirmed by the rejection of the Judicial Review (JR) at the Constitutional Court to increase the minimum age for children to marry. 

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As we known, female genital mutilation and mutilation still occur. Indonesia also still ignores the migrant domestic worker sector. It contains husband / parent permission requirements that limit women, as well as the framework for ratifying Law no. 18 of 2017 concerning Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers which is still vague. There are still issues of discriminatory policies against women in Aceh. This condition is considered to indicate the still weak optimization of laws that protect women against violence.

Indonesia has ratified CEDAW for 38 years since 1984. Even so, that doesn’t mean that Indonesia has been maximal in upholding women’s rights. During the New Order era, for example, CEDAW ratification was considered to be based on motherhood and not women’s rights. 

This misconception makes women’s rights in the public sector not the same as men’s. And women are required to work at home as mothers. 

This can be seen from the existence of Dharma Wanita at that time. During the reform period, the struggle for gender equality began to develop, but the challenges were still great. There are many pieces of legislation whose norms do not match the values ​​in CEDAW. For example, there are 412 regional regulations that are discriminatory and regulate the time of going out and the clothes worn by women. The ITE Law and the Pornography Law can also turn against victims of sexual violence.

Nadia Zahra Rahmadhani

Mahasiswi Hubungan Internasional yang suka menulis dan tertarik dengan isu gender.

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