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Mother and son in, Bali, Indonesia.
Adam Cohn / Flickr
Girls & Women

A New Sexist Bill Threatens Maternity Leave in Indonesia


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Harmful gender norms stop women around the world from receiving employment opportunities and reaching their full potential. Global Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality to end extreme poverty. You can join us and take action on this issue here

Politicians from four of Indonesia’s leading political parties are backing a controversial “family resilience” bill to assist families in crisis.

The bill, introduced Wednesday, outlaws surrogacy and sets restrictive guidelines on maternity leave and women’s household duties. The legislation follows growing hostility against Indonesia’s LGBTQ community and also requires LGBTQ people to seek rehabilitation treatment. 

Intended to encourage “family-based development,” the bill has received criticism from the public and women’s rights activists. It is unclear if and when the bill will be passed.

Financial difficulties, job demands, divorce, chronic disease, death, and sexual deviation all constitute as family crises under the bill, but domestic violence does not, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The family resilience bill aims to limit women’s autonomy in and out of the home. It orders women to handle “household-related matters” and “treat the husband and child well.” Women are to be granted paid maternity leave for six months, but only if they work in government offices, regional administrations, state-owned or region-owned enterprises, according to the Jakarta Post. 

Female activists have called the bill “patriarchal in nature.”

Mutiara Ika Pratiwi, a member of women’s rights group Perempuan Mahardhika, told the Jakarta Post the bill suggests maternity leave is for the benefit of the family at large, not for the mother.

Maternity leave not only improves child health, it is crucial to help women stay connected to their jobs and maintain their independence. 

Frenia Nababan of the Mother and Child Health Movement (GKIA) told the Jakarta Post she worries the bill will exclude mothers who work in factories, media, and other industries from guaranteed maternity leave.

Read More: Indonesia’s High Court Strikes Down Attempt to Criminalize Gay Sex

“Women working in informal sectors are always the ones facing difficulties when they want to take maternity leave,” Pratiwi said.

The family resilience bill puts a “double burden” on women, making them responsible for household duties and the well-being of their families, former MP and Gerindra party member Rahayu Saraswati told the ABC. Families should decide on the division of labor amongst themselves, Saraswati said.

While the gender gap is narrowing in Indonesia, the country still ranks 88th out of 153 countries on the Gender Gap Index. If the family resilience bill passes and women are forced to stay home and cannot receive paid maternity leave, progress on women’s rights will only be stalled.