On How Women in Indonesia Response to Covid-19

Notes from Aman Indonesia (1)

Amanasia.org – When the Covid-19 case was first discovered in Indonesia last March, the government acted quickly to resolve this. The first thing the government did was to establish an Inter-agency Task Force consisting of ministries and agencies that would later be tasked with overseeing the process of reducing cases. The official Task Force is mandated to focus on three things: health, economic, and social security of the people.

President Joko Widodo also ordered the authorities to open themselves to work with the community in tackling coronavirus. In practice, the Task Force formed by the government created the NGO Task Force (coordinating body for CSO working on Covid-19 response) and the Volunteer Task Force (coordinating body for volunteers’ organization). Beyond that, there is also a major CSO named Sejajar set up as an independent group to ensure that coordination among CSOs from national to city levels goes well. In this section, we, women, are involved.

The involvement of women in the handling of Covid-19 is a necessity because women belong to the groups of people who are most affected by the pandemic as it is now. Women, most of whom do not have the same educational background and skills as most men, must carry a double burden; work but with not the same amount of income and the obligation to care for the family.

In addition to the finansial problem, women also contributed the most in terms of fighters in the front line in the fight against Covid-19. 70% of medical workers, as reported by WHO, are women. Making women the group most at risk of contracting Covid-19 from the patients they treat.

On the other hand, the focus of health services which has almost entirely been prioritized to overcoming Covid-19 has also ignored the rights of other citizens who need health services. Women who need to give birth at this time must undergo a long and tiring process to get services from a hospital or health clinic. They must follow the Covid-19 protocol established by the government.

Another fact that is also astounding is the “stay at home” policy which turns out to end up being more and more unpaid works for women. Especially when gender inequality culture exists: women continue to be forced to work harder. The Stay at Home policy has forced many women, especially those who are married or living with a partner, to do more housework, because all activities are now centered at home.

The women must be able to serve all residents while keeping the the house clean and neat. Many of them also have to accompany children to learn from home with the types of school lessons that are not all easily understood by mothers.

These facts still do not include the high number of domestic violence which, of course, affects women. The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia reported that from 2 March to 25 April, there were 275 cases of violence against women and 368 cases of violence against children (Symphony Data-Based). For some people, WFH only means Work from Home, but for these women, WFH is Work from Hell.

To overcome this, AMAN Indonesia initiated several strategies focused on the interests of promoting peacebuilding, especially in a pandemic such as now. The first thing to do is to strengthen the Women School for Peace community with a relief program. The program focuses on assisting community members affected by Covid-19, both directly and indirectly.

Second, advocating gender mainstreaming by bringing collective voices of CSOs and local government to ensure the inclusion of women and children in the Covid-19 response. By establishing the Task Force on Gender Mainstreaming on Covid-19 Response (Pokja PUG), we do the most strategic intervention to influence the policymaking at national and local levels. At the national level, The Pokja has a direct connection with the ministry of women empowerment that is always ready to accept feedback and recommendations from The Pokja. While we are also active to engage with Inter-Agency Task Force and CSO major groups to ensure gender sensitivity is integrating into the program.

Third, strengthening credible voices of Women Ulema at KUPI by flooding the social media with positive and constructive contents on women and Islam. This is to support women dealing with the situation and wishing them all good luck.