INDONESIA: Women's Roles Vital in Peacemaking Efforts

Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jakarta Post
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

Delegates from Asian countries gathered in Jakarta on Wednesday to discuss how best to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

The participants from Jakarta, Poso, Kalimantan, Papua and Aceh, and other regions in Indonesia with a history of conflict joined other women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India in agreeing that women played a pivotal role in peace and reconciliation efforts.

Adopted on Oct. 31, 2000, resolution 1325 addresses the impact of war on women, as well as women's contributions in conflict resolution and peacemaking.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari, said that although women and children were usually the most vulnerable groups in conflict areas, they were usually among the most active groups involved in peacemaking and rehabilitation efforts.

She cited women's past contributions to peacemaking in armed or post-conflict areas, such as Poso in Central Sulawesi and Ambon in Maluku, saying they should neither be overlooked nor ignored.

Kamala Chandrakirana, the former chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence against Women, cited the example of roles played by women in peace and security in Maluku.

She said Muslim and Christian women there initiated peace talks with national leaders to help resolve interreligious conflict in 1999.

During the discussion, Linda highlighted the importance of resolution 1325 and how it would be integrated into national policies.

“We are in the process of drafting a national action plan as part of our national policy to implement the resolution,” she said.

Linda added that the action plan would prioritize the protection of women and children not only in armed conflict areas, but also in social settings.

“This is because we are seeing more social conflict and fewer armed conflict taking place in certain areas in the country,” she said.

Apart from the action plan, the ministry has responded to resolution 1325 by issuing a 2010 regulation on a gender-responsive budget that would require state institutions at all levels to direct budget allocations to programs supporting gender equality and women's empowerment.

Meanwhile, the current chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence against Women, Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, said women contributed to the peacemaking process in many creative ways.

“For instance, when I was working with women in Kalimantan where ethnic conflict between the Dayak and migrants from Madura broke out in 2001, women from both ethnic groups used public areas, such as traditional markets, to interact with each other, while promoting peace at the same time,” Yuniyanti said.

She added that formal negotiations, usually held behind closed doors, tended to marginalize women and their interests.

“In such public spaces, these women acted as peace agents, discussing reconciliation efforts and preventing incendiary speech from spreading,” she said.

Women also developed alternative and creative peacemaking processes in households, as they used storytelling to teach children about the atrocities of war, Yuniyanti added.