Women Representations in Political Area: “Gender Quotas” Is it Effective for Democracy? Comparative Analysis for Indonesia and Thailand

Putri Citra Pratama
Universitas Islam Indonesia
07 Aug 2022

Democracy as a form of political association should provide every inch of participation and consent to the society needs. Democracy provides freedom and contains rights from the individual into a group such as the right to life, law process, equality, non discrimination, and  freedom of expression. Democracy represents that the nation’s interests are coming from the society, by the society and for the society. In fact, in reaching those participations and fulfilling every society’s needs, democracy has found its difficulties during the implementation. (Merriam, 1941)

Based on the decision making theory from Richard C. Snyder, there are many factors that influence the decision making process. There are internal factors, external factors and the decision making process itself. One of the factors in making a decision for national interest is an internal factor which consists of variables such as non-human environment, society and human environment. Human environment, including government actors, can change decisions itself. Another important thing from this theory is the decision maker’s motivation, their belief, and also the norms that are used as the basis of life. Then when the country tries to give protection and fix women’s issues, it’s better to put women in making decisions and regulations. (Snyder et al., 1962)

Indonesia and Thailand are countries with democracy. Both countries hold general elections to choose their representatives. Women’s existence in political representatives is believed to make suitable regulations for every woman’s needs. Indonesia and Thailand also have a lot of similar cultures especially in gender perspective because majority society in Indonesia and Thailand implement their beliefs from east culture and usually put women in inferior status especially in political areas. Issues about patriarchy make women not interested or even hard to give their choice in political areas.

It’s reflected in the low percentage of women’s participation during the election. From the election in 2019, Indonesia gained 20.5% women’s participation which is equal to 118 women from total 575 quotas in the house of representatives (DPR, 2019). Same with Indonesia, Thailand held their last election in 2019 and Thailand gained 16.2% women’s participation which is equal to 81 women from total 500 quotas in the house of representatives (IPU, 2019). However, according to international standards women’s participation in politics should be 20% minimum and based on affirmative action in Indonesia’s law, representation of women should be 30% minimum. It concludes that both of the countries are under the target of their standard and bare minimum.

Each country tries to gain more women’s representation in political areas. Gender quotas may exist in political parties, legislative candidates, or reserved parliamentary seats. In general, gender quotas may increase the number of women’s positions. It’s effective to push women especially to gain political support as an obligation. But on the other hand, gender quotas itself have pros and cons. Drude Dahlerup as an Associate Professor of Political Science from University of Aarhus Denmark divides the factors of why people pros and cons.

They who believe in gender quotas have an argument that it’s not a discrimination, this system try to give compensation for every problems in political issues and the legal constitution will protect people from pressure because the women work together and come from different backgrounds. Women’s experiences are needed in political areas so they have equal representation rights. Pros also claim that gender quotas are not about qualifications, it’s about the number of percentages. Women usually have a better quality than men, but the political system is still dominated by men. So, the gender quotas system will boost women to take a role in the political system (Ratnawati, 2004).

For those who don’t believe in gender quotas, this system is trying to oppose the principle of equality itself. In reaching equality, gander quotas make the inequality by giving preference for women and it doesn’t make sense using inequality to reach equality. This choice is not democratic at all, and it shows that the politicians are chosen because of their gender and not because of their capabilities. Besides that, significant conflict can be made in political organizations (Ratnawati, 2004).

Indonesia is utilizing these gender quotas in their legal constitution and it should be spread in every part of democracy such as regional and national elections. Unlike Indonesia,  Thailand is not implementing gender quotas in their legal constitution. Thailand has a voluntary quota system, and Pak Prachatipat is the only one political party that sets the 30% minimum gender quota for their candidates (Palladino, 2020).   

12nd April 2022, Indonesia ratifies the law of sexual violance. This law try to protect victims from sexual violence which dominated by women, people with disabilities and children (RUU TPKS Disahkan Setelah Berbagai Penolakan Selama Enam Tahun, Apa Saja Poin Pentingnya?, 2022). This issues is important because based from the data of National Commission fro Women and Children, there were 431.1471 sexual violance in Indonesia against women at 2019 (Komnasham, 2019).  This data shows us about the urgency of making law to fight sexual violance. It takes a long journey and a lot of contradictions until this legal constitution is validated by the parliament. This law is validated when the leader of the Indonesian House of Representative is a woman. 

Gender quota is effective to gain numbers of representatives from women. It can make women show their needs and compose their priority in legal protection. Gaining the number of women representatives must be followed with giving strong understanding to women itself. So that the increase in quantity is followed by the increase of quality.

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