Strengthening Women’s Rights (SWR)

Project description

Title: Strengthening Women’s Rights (SWR)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Indonesia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (MOWECP)
Overall term: 2010 to 2014

Indonesia. What equal rights mean to me. © GIZ


The Indonesian Constitution guarantees comprehensive rights for women. This was underpinned by the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and is encoded in specific laws to protect women from violence. In addition, a presidential decree in 2000 made it mandatory to uphold the equality of men and women in all societal questions and in all sectors. Gender budgeting has been introduced to the planning of departmental budgets at all levels. As such, gender mainstreaming is now part of the country’s medium and long term development planning.
Despite all this, Indonesia is still a long way from actually achieving gender equality. The country’s socio-cultural diversity is a particular barrier to promoting equal rights. The patriarchal value system and the conservative religious leaders ascribe women a traditional role. At the same time, gender roles vary widely between the country’s 250-plus ethnic groups.

The diversity of national, religious and customary laws makes it difficult to enforce women’s rights. Moreover, secular marriage legislation and the likewise valid canon of Islamic law contradict the principle of equal opportunities. Discrimination and the use of violence often remain hidden because women, especially poorer women, are frequently unaware of their rights.


The establishment of appropriate policies and programmes at national and local level further reduces the structural disadvantages faced by women. Participants’ capacity to build up resources and use them efficiently is promoted.


The project works in three complementary areas.

  1. National policies for gender equality, especially with respect to the marriage laws
  2. Gender-sensitive policy recommendations and projects at the sub-national level
  3. Strategic, long-term capacity development and performance enhancement of the partner institutions.

There is much debate in Indonesia about the reform of marriage legislation, as this straddles secular and Islamic family law, and is influenced by both. In February 2012 the Constitutional Court ruled that the marriage laws should be adapted to protect the rights of children born out of wedlock. The public debate of this law prompted more vigorous promotion of women’s rights.

As part of the project, to restart stalled discussions about various other reform topics and to find alternative policy solutions, the Ministry of Women Empowerment has expanded the dialogue with relevant ministries, and with religious groups especially. The careful selection of issues and the inclusion of relevant data and research are intended to reduce the substantial potential for conflict.

National and international experts, as well as development workers, are working at various levels with local partners to support gender-sensitive policy development and enable lessons learned to be shared between the provinces. Activities focus on advisory services, capacity development measures, and support for network building.

Results achieved so far

Practice shows that simply providing legal advice is not enough to secure a change in the behaviour of men and women. Therefore, with the support of the project, the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the provincial women’s bureaus are implementing approaches such as community dialogues to achieve an awareness-raising effect from the bottom up. Women and men are learning to discuss questions of equal rights in groups in their local communities, and to devise solutions together.

With support from the project, the Ministry of Women Empowerment and some of the women’s bureaus have significantly improved the results orientation of their planning and policy formulation processes. Working with the project, the Ministry has designed a training module for gender-sensitive development and budget planning at provincial and district levels. The Ministry is thus making a decisive contribution to improving decentralised planning processes.

At the regional level, the women’s bureaus are cooperating with women’s study centres and non-governmental organisations to make recommendations for specific gender-sensitive local policies. Gender-sensitive policy analysis related to mining in East Kalimantan met with considerable public interest and the resulting recommendations are being used as a framework for further policy development.

Indonesia. Highly motivated participants at a gender seminar. © GIZ

The project is also supporting the ministry in strengthening the capacities of relevant stakeholders for gender-responsive and child rights-sensitive data management. To this end a training module has been developed, instructors have been trained in its use, and decision-makers have received related advice. Based on this, the ministry is promoting its implementation in the provinces. Good practices from Yogyakarta are also being disseminated. Here, new regulations were introduced at the end of 2012 governing legal and operational aspects of sensitive data management.