Understanding the participation of women in conflict resolution and peace building cannot be separated from understanding the Indonesian context. This paper is divided into three parts, background, historical context, and the role of women in conflict resolution.
Stretch across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the largest population in the Muslim world.[ii] This nation is ethnically diverse, with more than 300 local languages. People have different economic activities, ranging from hunter gatherers from rural to modern urban elite.[iii] In terms of political life, Indonesia has experienced important dynamics.Former New Order was an authoritarian rule which allowing the technocrats to run the economy with considerable success. President Soeharto also known for his policy on the Dual Function of Military which allowing military involvement at all levels of government down to village level. In development policy, "transmigration" program - engaged in a large number of landless farmers from Java to other parts of the country – has been said as fanning ethnic conflict.[iv]In 1998 after economic crises hit Asian countries President Soeharto fell from power, starting a decade of transitional politics marked by 1998 riots.
Pressures to have reform in all sectors have touched upon governance system as well. In post Soeharto policy, power is devolved from central government and the first direct presidential elections held in 1999 election was said to be the first successful democraticand fair election, since that of 1955 parliamentary system in Indonesia.
Post-Suharto Indonesia has made the transition to democracy, also sparked by violent internal conflict, or intractable conflict following Louis Kriesberg’s category.[v] The country experienced demands for independence in several provinces (Aceh, East Timor and Papua), where the separation has been encouraged by East Timor's 1999 success in escaping after 25 years of occupation. In Aceh and Papua, people came forward challenging the central government in terms of equal distribution of politics and economic justice.[vi]
Someconflictswithviolenceon the basis of ethnicity and religion were the mostprominent, amongother, Poso, Central Sulawesi(1998-2001), MalukuandNorthMaluku(1999-2002),WestKalimantan, especiallySambas(1997, 1999-2001), Central Kalimantan, especially Sampit(2001). This violence is estimated to have replaced more than one million people from 1998 until 2003, when most of the communal conflicts resolved, and caused the loss of thousands of lives according to the Jakarta Post, August 20, 2001 post-communal conflict Suharto took 1.3 million refugees, with many of victims were women and children. [vii]
Another feature during the reform touched on women and gender issues. Indonesia is undergoing its almost one decade and half period of reform. What has been changed in terms of condition of women in Indonesia within that period?The most visible account was the rising of the first Indonesian female president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of former first Indonesian President, Sukarno. However, as in elsewhere, patriarchy is still the dominant discourse in cultural and political realms of Indonesia. Despite the rising of Indonesian woman president, the arena of politics for Indonesian women is still rarely filled by women. The call for political parties to endorse 30% quota was marked by national pros and cons, whilst in the midst of communal conflict which followed the transition, women’s role in conflict resolution is a rarity compare to men’s
This paper is intended, among others, to highlight one realm where women is seen, and has been proved, to be a potential and active actor, as men alike, in conflict resolution and peace building in Indonesia. In doing so, I will look at the recent works on conflict also if any, specific studies on women and peacemaking in Indonesia and highlights from those studies, important roles of women in peace building.
Current Works on Women’s Role in Peace Building in Indonesia
“The role of Indonesian women in shaping the very fabric of our society is integral to the history of our nation.”[viii] In reality, when one followed in details the changes in Indonesian society post Soeharto, what interesting is that not only the state which undergoes massive changes, but also civil society.[ix]However, if we regard that conflict and peace are two public arenas where every citizen is possible to receive impacts, then we found a common feature where women and children are presented as victims. Very rare, if any, literatures or works which posed women are taking roles as perpetrators or protagonists in conflict settings.Recently women as the central theme in conflict resolution in Indonesia is finally documented thanked to individuals and organizations that has put forth peace approaches and started to apply it in their work.
Changes during reform period has provided many challenges and as well, opportunities for peace scholars and activists. Prominent features on roles of women in conflict resolution is among others documented in research on women in Poso conflict that explores experiences of Indonesian women living in the conflict affected area of Poso, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. [x] Focusing in particular on their roles as agents of peace, the research draws data collection involved a combination of participant observation, interviews with key informants, and focus group discussions. The study found that as peace builders, both individually and collectively, women engage in a wide variety of activities, including working with humanitarian agencies and the government as well as assisting IDPs (internally displaced persons) and returnees to initiate income-generating activities. Their roles as agents of peace are, however, generally ignored and marginalized by the organizers of formal peace building processes. This contradictory positioning is explored along with the personal obstacles the women believe must be addressed if they are ever to assume a significant role at the bargaining table.
Another study on women with conflict setting was conducted by the Jurnal Perempuan.[xi] Since its inception, Jurnal Perempuan has recorded tremendous efforts of women in grassroots level, from Aceh to Papua. Women’s experiences as victims and survivors were recorded in an in depth, as well as producing a DVD on women’s role during armed conflict.
There is also a recent work which focused on women’s role in peace building using multi approaches. The study was conducted by LIPI and HDC documentexperiences of women are directly involved in conflict resolution in Indonesia from various sectors (government rebel groups, NGOs, etc.), and identify women who could be considered for the role of facilitation or mediation in the future. [xii] While women have played a large role in managing conflicts at the community in many ways, their involvement in conflict resolution at a higher political level where decisions are made, almost non exist. Thus, placing the possible involvement of women in conflict resolution by ensuring that those who have experience at the community level are identified, the opportunity is given to capacity building, and then exposed to a higher official and political level of decision making where they can be listed as a source of peace efforts power. The practical purpose of the study aims to increase awareness and involvement of gender nuances related to peace and conflict management that sustainable peace can only be achieved if there is a holistic participation in the peace process. The study is equipped with several workshop sessions with the aim of accommodating the ideas and aspirations of the public, one of which is a roundtable discussion titled, "Indonesian Women at the Peace Table: Enhancing the Role of Women in Conflict Resolution," was held on 24 - March 25, 2010, in Jakarta. Discussion was organized by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre), is part of a collaborative effort with the Center for Politics and the State Ministry for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection.[xiii] HDC and LIPI’s study among others presented several important features on condition of women and children in conflict areas of Maluku Poso, and Papua.
An important finding in the HDC-LIPI work is the informal mechanism of peace builder conducted by women in conflict areas in Indonesia is more recognized. According to the study, women’s role in formal peace talks in peace building in Indonesia is very limited as seen in this box below:[xiv]
Table 1: Road Map of Women’s Role in Indonesia’s Peace Building
Numbers of women involved
Two female pastors from the Christian community who participated in the process, Nelly Alamako and Lis Sigilipu, and one Muslim woman, Ruwaida Untingo.
One female pastor Margaretta Hendrik, and two Catholic women, Sister Brigitta Renyaan and Etty Dumatubun
One (Shadia Marhaban)
Source: Cate Buchanan, Ed.
However, the informal roles of women in conflict situation were extensive.For instance, women in Maluku tried to bridge the gaps and tensions between Muslim and Christian communities in times of conflict.Evidently in many events during conflict, women are even more daring break through the barrier with fixed trading at the market. There is a consciousness, life must continue. They declare that the conflict must end.One activist, Sister Brigitta from Maluku, who also attended the workshop for this study in Jakarta on March 2010, told that during the conflict in Maluku, women at the grassroots level were strongly encouraging cessation of conflict, especially when the people of Maluku began to segregate based on religions. Nonetheless, “women are not involved until the formal negotiating table. I asked for the involvement of women at the grassroots level may be mediated for their aspirations to get to the center. Their role is to be recognized."Another activist which quoted in the study came from Papua a region rich in ethnicities and natural resources, who mentioned during workshop that women has been actively involved in cultural matters.[xv]
The same phenomenon also occurred in Aceh peace process, where absent of women in the peace talks have created critics from many partis, despite the Aceh history where women’s political role were acknowledged.[xvi]It is actually a fortune that aspirations from women to take greater roles in conflict resolution found support from Minister of Women and Child Protection Linda Amalia Sari. She is on the opinion that such roles should be socialized to people, especially policy makers, so that women will be more involved in the process of conflict resolution and peace, and stressing that the spirit of these women is important because women and children are the most vulnerable to becoming victims during conflict.
The HdC-LIPI research is among others recommends some important points directed to government on the issue of enhancing women participation:
Government agenciesneed to provide clear indications regulations related to the issue enhancing role of women and to have a clear role which government agencies should take the lead in socializing these regulations and what the procedures should be.
Clear coordination among government on implementation of regulations and policy.
A clearer operational guideline will not only assist the working of government officials but also non-government actors in lobbying for greater women participation.
Establishing working group (pokja) on women and conflict resolution which in an inter ministry working groupto ensure that women’s rights, needs and their representation and participation in the different phases of a peace process and stages of conflict are addressed.
Another recent approach to look at roles of women in peace making in Indonesia was held by Komnas Perempuan, in line with the mandate of Resolution 1325, "Asian Women Peacemaker's Conference; The Inter-faith Perspective in Realizing the Role of Women Peacemaker in the Implementation of UNSCR 1325" held in Jakarta on 29 to 30 September 2010.[xvii] The goal of the convention was for women to share experiences and uses their knowledge to build peace. Various women's organizations attended the conference were from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Philippines, Nepal, Afghanistan, Timor Leste, the Netherlands, Somalia, Burundi, and Ethiopia who want to look at the progress on implementation of UN Resolution 1325. Through the conference, many countries with the same issue were presented their cases, allowing the exchange of knowledge and experience to strengthen human rights enforcement efforts of women in Indonesia. This conference was also a way of promoting the importance of implementing Resolution 1325 in all countries of Asia.
Participants from various countries contributed to the various activities that can be done so that women engage more actively to prevent conflict and build peace. Musdah Mulia, Chairman of the ICRP (Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace) emphasized the importance of inter-faith perspective and the need to replace patriarchal culture to promote peace. While Kamala Chandrakirana, Indonesian Women's rights activists argued that conflict resolution mechanisms should be considered when the rebuilding of society after the conflict ended, without creating new discrimination for women with various policies that are not friendly to women.
Some recommendations from the Komnas Perempuan forum are among others:
2.Countriesensurebureaucratic reform, specificallyreformthe securitysectortosupportefforts to prevent andresolve conflictswithwomen'sperspectiveandcross-faith
3.Countriesguarantee theprotection ofthe rights ofwomen victims ofconflict, promotionwithinthe framework ofempowermentof women,andwomen's participation inall levels ofdecision-making processes, especially those related topeace-buildingefforts
Clearly several efforts have been in place to put forth roles of women in conflict resolution. Actors which are related to one another are government and civil society. Interesting enough that in Indonesia there has been good networking between NGOs and grass root activists to make women’s voices more heard. Reports from workshops held by HDC and LIPI clearly shows that peace buildings were mostly conducted by women from the grass roots or non government organization. This phenomenon, reflected in the discussion among women activists attended the March 24-25 2010 workshops held by LIPI and HDC, has highlighted that the importance of involving women in the process of finalization of the peace talks is mainly because women would be more astute in resolving post-conflict issues, such as land issues and the fate of refugees. Issues like that are actually often not resolved because the focus of attention is only concentrated on conflict resolution.
Many lessons learned drawn from grass roots efforts that located women’s role in mediation shows if women are involved in the negotiation process from the beginning and more women's voices be heard, then the post-conflict issues will be more easily resolved. Thus, the role women are expected not only to help resolve the conflict, but also rebuilding post-conflict society. In this sense, the government’s most minimum role or effort will be of providing political support. In this context, civil society organizations should be more focus on the empowerment approach to politicians or policy makers so they know what to do. The role of politician and parliament members are equally very important.
This approach of using specific local/cultural context in enhancing women’s roles however is not without problem. If considering the different caveats of local cultures, like in Aceh, Acehnese women's votes would be difficult to hear because, despite their awareness of their rights, most difficult to break through the wall of a patriarchal society in Aceh.[xviii] According to Shadia Marhaban, the only female representative within Free Aceh Movement delegation attending the Helsinki peace process in August 2005,"In Aceh case, although women are invited to participate in the political arena, women's voices are not heard because women still have to follow the command and control. Few opportunities for them to speak on behalf of women's interests”. Another voice from women activist in Papua, on the contrary, still sees that local mechanism is fit with women’s role, thus asked not to put aside the informal mechanisms of conflict resolution for it accommodates greater women involvement. The same tune also was voiced by representatives from Maluku and Poso during the two day workshop on women at peace table with LIPI and HDC.
The Role of Government in Supporting Women’s Role in Peace Building
Besides the works from academia, and NGO’s, the State Minister of Women Empowerment and Children has conducted several rounds of meetings with different groups to discuss the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 in 2009-2010. The draft is still in progress, and several discussions have been held where representatives of NGOs, also ministries attended to give feedbacks.
Addressing the possibility of constraints from cultural background which is very diverse in Indonesia, roles of women, activists involved in the drafting of NAP suggested the necessary political position to assure its implementation. Nonetheless, it is precisely at this point we must recognize that there is a gap between implementation of national and international norms. Although in fact Indonesia has progressed by signing several of international norms which support position of women, not all directly related to UNSCR 1325.
To date in Indonesia there are several existing legislation which adopts the principle of gender mainstreaming:
·In RPJMN (middle term national development plan) 2010-2014, Presidential Decree No. 5 / 2010 stated that gender perspective should be integrated in the development process in various fields.
·(Presidential Instruction) No.9 / 2000 stated that the need for gender mainstreaming in national development process including planning, conceptualization, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
·Presidential Decree No. 38 and 41/2007, in terms of the division of authority and organizational structure at the local level show that in all provinces and districts should have the empowerment of women and family planning agencies that cooperate with the Bappeda and SKPD.
Whilst in international norm, officially, Indonesia has supported the 2000 UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. But as the study of LIPI and HDC pointed out, until now there has not been any reference to the resolution in the government’s policy formulation.[xix]. The only reference to gender-based policies at the national level is the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), embodied in Law No. 7 / 1984 in Indonesia and then the Law No.22/2000 'National Development Program'. [xx]This law consists of 26 gender-sensitive development policies in various sectors including legal, economic, political, educational, social and cultural rights and the environment. This law was followed by a Presidential Decree (Presidential Instruction) No. 9 / 2000 on Gender Mainstreaming in Development. A list of measures and regulations has been prepared to encourage gender mainstreaming in various fields.
Nonetheless the government, in this case State Ministry for Women Empowerment and Child Protection, has moved ahead quite progressively. The Minister of Women Empowerment and her office facilitating steps to observe and discuss,—and even sometimes met with reluctance from other government departments—the context and possibility to go further in adopting of UNSCR 1325 in a national action plan. Perhaps the only government institute which realized that UNSCR 1325, as an international norm, a resolution mandating the UN members to implement, making it the basis of assurance of protection and empowerment of women in conflict areas, and ensure the involvement of women in decision-making process for issues of conflict and peace—is comply with Indonesia condition.UN Resolution 1325 focuses on the impact of war on women and the contribution of women to prevent conflict and build peace. Until recently the Ministry proactively formulates NAP with support of civil society groups. Perhaps the reluctance from other department, i.e. from State Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Law and Human Rights, or State Ministry of Defense, is given the topic “security” which embedded in the UNSCR 1325 somehow still regarded as sensitive and belongs to male domain among circle of high officials in Indonesia.
The Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection in her opening speech at the workshop in Jakarta, March 24, 2010 admitted that even though Indonesia has signed the UNSCR 1325 (in 2000) but the socialization of the resolution is also limited. To overcome this, the Ministry for Women Empowerment and Child Protection has been active in arranging workshops and seminars to discuss the UNSCR 1325 and other women related issues since Indonesia is in the process of developing UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan (NAP). This process is led by the Ministry for Women Empowerment and Child Protection, with assistance from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Before the implementation of UNSCR 1325 the work on NAP has centered on workshops and seminars with little or no impact on the actual participation of women in peace or conflict process.[xxi]Therefore, the NAP 1325 is an encouraging beginning for the implementation of strategic mapping. Meetings with other government agencies have been held with the various inputs required and a number of concerns raised about the need for such plans in Indonesia at the moment.[xxii]This can also be appreciated as a good sign that government agency is now taking active part in a reform agenda.
The State Minister, Linda Amalia Sari, on her opening speech addressing Interfaith Workshop held by Komnas Perempuan (National Women Commision) in September 2010 mentioned that "This resolution is important to be implemented as the basic protection of women and children in Indonesia who often become victims of any conflict." Her statement is a proof that Indonesia is now is now on the right track to make it actual. The question is then to what extent the government and civil society can work together and finalize the NAP as planned and on the implementation strategy of NAP once it commenced. (Irine Hiraswari Gayatri)
Jakarta, March 12, 2011
[i] Researcher at the Centre for Political Studies,Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P LIPI)
[v]Mainlybecause ofthe complexity ofconflictresolution, the impact onlifeconflictinggroups, andthe damage.Louis Kriesberg mention three dimensions that lead to a conflict can categorized as an intractable conflict, namely persistence, destructiveness, and resistance to resolution. See, Peter T. Coleman, "Intractable Conflict", Morton Deutsch, Peter T. Coleman, and Eric C. Marcus (eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (second ed.), (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2006), pp. 534.
[vi] Aceh conflict ended after tsunami hit the province in December 26, 2004 which killed almost 250.000 people that gave pause to the armed conflict that resumed in Helsinki Peace Agreement dated August 26 2005.
[vii] See, Buchanan, Cate, ed., Women at the Indonesian Peace Table: Enhancing the Contributions of Women to Conflict Resolution (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue: Geneva, Swiss, November 2010).Refugees data quoted from the Jakarta Post, August 20, 2001. See also, Freek Colombijn and J.Thomas Lindblad, "Introduction", in Freek Colombijn and J. Thomas Lindblad (eds.),Roots of Violence in Indonesia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2002), pp. 1. Some cases are considered the most prominent because it has a very high dynamics of conflict. About dynamics of contention, which was introduced by Douglas McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly, see Gerry van Klinken, "New Actors, New Identity: Inter-Ethnic Violence in Post-Suharto period in Indonesia, "in Dewi Fortuna Anwar, et.al. (editor), Conflict Internal Violence: Overview of History, Economics, Politics, and Policy in the Asia Pacific (New York: YOI, LIPI, LASEMA-CNRS, KITLV-Jakarta, 2005), pp. 91-116
[viii] Opening speech by H.E. Mr. Sudjajdnan Parnohadiningrat, Ambassador of The Republic of Indonesia in Australia, in Kathryn Robinson and Sharon Bessell, eds., Women in Indonesia, Gender, Equity and Development, (ISEAS: Singapore,2002), p.1.
[ix]Against the background of widespread communal conflict in Indonesia, literatures and centers of studies which directed to observe, investigate and participate in peace and conflict matters have met with great enthusiasm. These trends, the growing of centers of peace and conflict studies across Indonesia were not only placed inside universities, but also outside. Fundings came mostly from Europea counterparts. Mainly in big cities where middle classes have more time and equipped with sufficient knowledge on whats-goin-ons around the world, solidarity becomes the keyword where intellectual and NGO actors joined together and pay more attention into peace and conflict realms.
[x]Agustiana, Endah. and Hale, Claudia."Women as Peacebuilders: The Experiences and Efforts of Women in Poso, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany, <Not Available>. 2009-05-25 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p92164_index.html>
[xi] Jurnal Perempuan, “Perempuan di Wilayah Konflik”,
[xiii]The event on24 - March 25, 2010 wasattendedby30peoplecomprisingKemenegPPofficials, stafffromKemenkopolhukkam, stafffromKemenkokesra, andKemenhan. Alsoattended byrepresentativesofNGOsfromJakartaandAceh, Maluku, PosoandPapua. Amongthe participantstherewho workasacademics, there is also awomanfromamong theNGOswhocamefromformer female soldiersin Aceh. The main purposeofthe meetingwasto strategizecontributions and to increaseofwomen rolesinconflictresolution, especially atthe level ofdecisionmaking inpoliticalandsecuritysectors. Whileon the onehandhas beenproventhatwomeninIndonesia is playingacrucialrolein the conflict managementat the grassroots level, on theother hand, the contribution of womeninformalpeaceprocessesanddecision-makingprocessdid notappearhigher.
[xv] Latifah Anum Siregar, a lawyer from ALDP in Papua, communication with the writer during research writing in July 2010.
[xvi] Crisis Management Initiative, “The Aceh Peace Process” report, August 2006.
[xvii]Yulianti Muthmainnah,“Apa Kabar Resolusi PBB 1325 bagi Perempuan, Perdamaian, danKeamanan?” 8 October 2010. The eventtook placein cooperationNational Commission for Women, the WomenPeacemakerMulticulturalNetwork, theIndonesianConferenceonReligionandPeace, InternationalFellowshipof Reconciliation, WomenPeacemakersProgram(IFOR /WPP) andsupportedby theMinistry of Women EmpowermentandChild Protectionof the Republic ofIndonesia(KNPPA).
[xviii]League President Inong Aceh (LINA), Shadia Marhaban quoted in Kompas
[xix] During the 6th anniversary of SCR 1325, October 2006, Indonesian delegation, H.E. Mrs. Adiyatwidi Adiwoso Asmady, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative mentioned, “My delegation takes note of measures by various UN entities to implement the resolution at national and community levels. However, it is essential that these endeavors should be taken in full consultation with national authorities”. Source: www.peacewomen.org/un/6thAnniversary/Compilation/National_Implementation.html accessed February 26, 2010.
[xx] UU No 7/ 1984 on Pengesahan konvensi mengenai penghapusan segala bentuk diskriminasi terhadap wanita (Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women).
[xxi] Corner, Lorraine (2008), Mapping aid effectiveness and gender equality in Asia Pacific: Regional issues and trends, UNIFEM, New York, p.25.