Women’s Advocacy in Indonesia and Australia – AIYA Virtual Seminar

Posted on 20 July, 2021

Written by Christina Amanda Sadhani – National Communications Coordinator 

Translation by Gabriella Pasya – AIYA National Translator

For Bahasa Indonesia version, click here

To shed light on the importance of advocating for women’s rights in Indonesia and Australia, the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association Women’s Committee held Stronger Together: Advocacy of Women’s Issues in Australia and Indonesia. On June 12th, a virtual seminar was set to explore the women’s rights movement in the bilateral space. Featuring Kate Walton and Anindya Restuviani (Vivi) as panellists, it was an insightful and eye-opening session of understanding present-day women’s issues and learning the tools needed to become advocates for women’s rights.

During their presentations, Kate and Vivi talked about how feminist movements have progressed over the years and important aspects to remember in becoming better advocates for women’s rights in Australia and Indonesia respectively. From an Australian perspective, Kate discussed the origins of feminist movements. Starting from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples culture, the impacts of British settlement, and eventually the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s that fought against gender-based discrimination and challenged how the Australian society perceived women. The movement was a notable milestone in Australia’s fight for women’s rights, although the lingering existence of gender-based domestic violence and the wage gap in the present-day signify that Australia still must improve on critical aspects before fully achieving equality.

1960’s women’s rights movement in Melbourne, Australia.

Similarly, Vivi discussed how Indonesia has engaged with the feminist movement, marked by the presence of progressive organisations that fought for emancipation and gender equality in earlier years. However, compared to Australia’s increasingly progressive movement, Indonesia faced setbacks following independence, and being a relatively new country. Progressive movements for women’s rights have been met with opposition from several fundamentalist groups. In the present day, there has been a growing rise in women’s rights movements. However, gender inequality still looms over Indonesia as sexual harassment, domestic violence, child marriage, and other forms of gender-based violence still remains.

Feminism movement in Indonesia in 2018.

Amidst the different milestones both countries have gone through, one theme remains common and consistent: the importance of solidarity.

Standing in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised is a crucial, if not the most significant step in advocating for women’s rights. Gender discrimination is closely interrelated with all issues that other marginalised and oppressed groups have to endure. Justice and equality for women will not be achieved if communities do not come together. 

Additionally, it is important to be active participants by being aware of our surroundings and to safely intervene in any form of gender-based discrimination. We should actively support movements and policies that lead towards protection and equality. In Indonesia, for example, Vivi encouraged promoting the legalisation of the sexual violence bill (RUU PKS) and to reject policies that might further disadvantage women and other marginalised communities.

While we all may have different roles to fill and different battles to fight in the journey towards equality in Indonesia and Australia, remember that we are always stronger together.