The Ministry of Women and Child Protection is consulting the National Commission of Violence Against Women as it presses ahead with its bill on gender equality.
“We are pushing this bill as we need to have a strong legal basis from which to push all ministries and the central and regional government to have gender-sensitive policies that will benefit both sexes, especially women,” Minister Linda Amalia Sari said on Friday.
She said the legislation also aimed to cut the number of discriminatory bylaws that violated women's rights.
“We are currently in a discussion with the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), studying the bylaws and assessing their impact,” the minister said.
The commission said last week that there were 154 bylaws nationwide that were discriminatory, with 64 limiting women's freedom of expression and ability to secure gainful employment.
“We are working hard on this bill and we hope that it can be endorsed next year,” Linda said.
Ministry spokesman Sri Danti said: “The bill in principle follows the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
She added that the bill would promote a positive environment for gender equality, discourage discriminatory policies and promote equal access for women in all professional sectors.
Linda said she was concerned that several provinces had implemented discriminatory bylaws and had brought them up with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In West Aceh, Muslim women are banned from wearing tight clothing, supposedly because they could incite sinful conduct in men. In Tangerang, women caught in public places past midnight are considered prostitutes and rounded up by the authorities.
“Strong coordination is the key to handling this problem and we always remind the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as local governments that they cannot discriminate against women and children,” Linda said.
She said it was tough problem to deal with.
“It is hard as we are still living in a country with strong patriarchal influence and not all people know about gender equality and child protection,” Linda said.
The ministry on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Globe Media Group, parent of the Jakarta Globe, to raise awareness of gender equality and the importance of protecting children.
“We hope we can raise awareness with the help of the media,” Linda said.
The minister said she appreciated that Globe Media did not accept cigarette advertisements.
“Tobacco is having a bigger influence on children and we are concerned that more of them are taking up the habit,' Linda said.