Number of women legislators expected to double

Women’s activists in Bali expect that female representation in the Provincial and Regional Councils could go up to 15 percent next year from its current 7.5 percent, which is the lowest in the country. Democracy and women’s activist from Bali Sruti Foundation, Luh Riniti Rahayu, said Saturday the target of between 11 to 15 percent was plausible, seeing that the total number of women on the Final List of Candidates (DCT) for the 2014 general election in Bali amounted to 33 percent. The 2012 law on elections requires 30 percent of all political participants to be women.

“The participation of women as candidates, as well as voters, is still low,” the foundation chairperson said. From 415 city and regional council seats available, only 30 were occupied by women, said the lecturer at Ngurah Rai University in Denpasar. Riniti revealed that the number of women voters was below 50 percent of total voters, which reached 74 percent of the population during the most recent gubernatorial election earlier this year. She stressed that the lack of women in the councils hampered the creation of bylaws that were supportive of women and children.

“Not all men in the councils understand women’s needs. If female participation rises, this can change,” she said. Riniti mentioned the implementation of a bylaw for the eradication of domestic violence and regulations on the prevention of HIV and AIDS — which affect many women and children, as examples the council had yet to address. Riniti added that women’s and children’s protection was not running at its best after the disbandment of the Bali Child Protection Commission. As of now, only the Women’s and Children’s Protection and Empowerment Agency (BP3A) was handling such issues.

Riniti acknowledged though that the challenge to increase the number of women legislators was not an easy task. While women mostly follow their spouse’s preferences in politics, the capability of women candidates was questionable, as the parties’ regeneration seemed to have failed. “Female voters don’t necessarily choose female candidates, as many still follow their husband and relatives, and most of the candidates are men too,” Riniti said. “Besides, parties don’t seem to wholeheartedly prepare their female candidates,” added the former Bali General Election Commission (KPU) member.

The foundation identified that all parties had fulfilled the requirement for 30 percent female participation, however only a small portion of these were placed at the top of their party’s candidate list. “Parties tend to place their female candidates at number three and below,” she said. From the 12 parties participating in the election on the island, the National Democrat Party tops with 152 female candidates. However, Riniti said, the potential winner would probably come from one of the dominating parties: the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar or the Democratic Party.

Bali KPU member I Wayan Jondra said that the number of voters would possibly increase to 2.9 million from 2.6 million in the 2009 election. He said his team was verifying the number. One of the main issues with verification was the high number of invalid identity numbers (NIK), he said. At least 1,400 invalid NIKs had been recorded. “District offices will have to verify them directly with the households so that everyone can exercise their right to vote,” he said. Jondra added that his team was planning to give voting rights to 900 prisoners on the island who do not have ID cards. “We still have to meet them because the courts’ verdict did not mention their details, like date and place of birth,” he said.

source : bali daily

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