Indonesia is ranked 32 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 55 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index

The 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.617, placing it in 134th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.505. Indonesia’s Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6594, placing it in 90th place (out of a total of 135 countries).

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The legal age of marriage is 16 years for women and 19 years for men.[1] Although marriage patterns vary between regions and ethnic groups and overall, rates of early marriage are falling, early marriage is prevalent in rural areas. A 2004 United Nations report drawing on data from 2000 estimated that 13.3 per cent of all Indonesian girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[2] By 2005, that figure had fallen to 9.2 percent.[3] The government has conducted public relations campaigns that encourage delaying marriage, continuing education for both boys and girls, limiting family size, and promoting men to take a greater role in family life.[4]

Polygamy is not illegal in Indonesia, but the Marriage Law of 1974 states that permission to have multiple wives can only be granted if a man can provide evidence that his first wife is unable to carry out her responsibilities as a wife, is suffering from a physical disability or falls victim to an incurable disease, or is unable to bear children.[5]

Indonesia’s Marriage Law considers men to be the head of the household but parental authority is shared equally by men and women.[6]  Women and men have the same rights to divorce, except in Aceh, where women’s rights to divorce are limited under Sharia law.[7] Domestic violence is grounds for a woman to file for divorce, but the 2011 report to the CEDAW committee reports that in some cases, judges in Religious Courts are reluctant to grant a divorce even in these circumstances.[8] Under Indonesian law, a woman cannot transfer Indonesian citizenship to her child until that child reaches the age of 18.[9]

Under Indonesian civil law, women and men have equal rights to inheritance.[10] However in practice, inheritance practices vary between different regions and ethnic groups. Where Islamic law is practiced, inheritance tends to favour male heirs over female heirs, whereas a recent study shows that some groups pass down land rights from mothers to daughters.[11]

[1] Law No. 23 of 2002 on Child Protection recommends that the legal age be for both men and women 18 years but does not mandate it. [2] United Nations (UN) (2004), p. 164. [3] UN (2008). [4] CEDAW (2005), p. 57. [5] Article 4 of the Marriage Law No. 1 of 1974 in CEDAW (2005), p. 57; CEDAW (2011), p.70 [6] CEDAW (2005), pp. 56-57. [7] US Department of State (2011) [8] CEDAW (2011), p.73 [9] CEDAW (2011), p.26 [10] CEDAW (2011), p.66 [11] Cunningham (2007); CEDAW (2011), p.66.

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

Rape is a punishable offence in Indonesia, however according to the US Department of State’s human rights report for 2010, the legal definition of rape is narrow, and does not include spousal rape.[12] Punishments range from 4 to 14 years imprisonment; the US Department of State notes that in cases where rapists are convicted, they are commonly given the minimum sentence.[13]

The Elimination of Domestic Violence Law was introduced in 2004.[14] However, the 2011 report to the CEDAW committee notes that women seeking to use the law to obtain justice in cases of domestic violence have found the process to be lengthy, complicated, and ultimately ineffective.[15] Further, women’s organizations report that even though the Elimination of Domestic Violence Law Law Number 23 of the year 2004 has already declared domestic violence a crime, the Compilation of Islamic Law still allows domestic violence against wives, as provided for under article 48. This article provides authority to husband to commit violence against wife. [16]

Although sexual harassment can be prosecuted under the Criminal Code[17], women’s organizations report that due to the absence of rules and a clear definition of sexual harassment in the Penal Code, many cases are difficult to prosecute and victims are unwilling to come forward.[18]Reliable statistics regarding the prevalence of rape are not available.[19]

Domestic violence is considered a private matter and incidents are rarely reported, with victims facing considerable social pressure not to speak out.[20]  As such, it is difficult to ascertain how frequently it occurs. However, the 2011 CEDAW report notes that in 2006, 41% of documented cases of divorce going through the Religious Courts cited involved domestic violence, while the US Department of State notes that in 2010, the Ministry of Women Empowerment stated that 11,469 cases of violence against women were reported from 20 provinces during the year.[21] Recent evidence indicates that public acceptance of domestic violence may be increasing among women. According to a 2003 Demographic and Health Survey, almost 25 per cent of women who are or once were married agree that a husband is justified in beating his wife for any of the following reasons: she burns the food; she argues with him; she goes out without telling him; she neglects the children; or she refuses to have sex with him.[22] When asked again during the 2007 survey, the total had risen to over 30 percent. These numbers were highest among poor and young women, and those with little to no education .[23]

Trafficking and prostitution pose serious threats for Indonesian girls and women, particularly those who are poor and lack education.[24] As reported by the US Department of State, a study conducted by the Indonesian Ministry of Health in 2004 found that 90 percent of women (and 25 percent of men) claimed to have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.[25]

In April 2006, the Ministry of Health banned the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), officially making it illegal for doctors and nurses to perform the procedure.[26] However, FGM is still practised in some parts of the country by groups claiming the act is largely symbolic and not a real threat to women’s health.[27]

Abortion is only legal in cases where the woman’s life is in danger.[28]

Women in Indonesia have the right to use contraception, and to access information about reproductive health and family planning.[29] However, the US Department of State (drawing on a report by Amnesty International) notes that unmarried women often face difficulties in accessing contraception.[30] Indonesia has run a national family planning program to reduce the fertility rate since the 1990s, which includes contraceptives and irreversible contraceptive methods. However the rate of male participation remains low.[31] Knowledge of modern methods of contraception among married women in Indonesia top 98 percent, according to the 2007 DHS.[32] Usage rates are also quite high: more than 80 percent of ever-married women had used a modern method of contraception at some point, and more than 54 percent were doing so at the time of the 2007 DHS.[33] Among women who were not using contraception, nearly half discontinued use for either fertility- or health-related reasons, such as deciding to have a child, or due to side-effects from the method of contraceptive utilized.[34] More than 46 percent intended to use contraception as a method of family planning in the future.[35] This suggests that women do not face obstacles in the form of social or religious customs in regard to accessing contraception. Overall, just 9.7 percent of women reported an unmet need for family planning, either from a desire to increase the period of time between births, or a desire to limit their overall number of children.[36]

[12] Article 9(g) of Law 26 of 2000 on the Human Rights Court in US Department of State (2010); US Department of State (2011) [13] US Department of State (2011) [14] Law 23/2004 regarding Elimination of Domestic Violence in CEDAW (2011), p.67 [15] CEDAW (2011), p.68 [16] CEDAW (2007) [17] US Department of State (2011) [18] CEDAW (2011) [19] US Department of State (2011) [20] CEDAW (2005), p. 26. [21] CEDAW (2011), p.73; US Department of State (2011) [22] Badan Pusat Statistik-Statistics Indonesia (BPS) and ORC Macro (2003), Table 3.12. [23] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table 3.12.1. [24] CEDAW (2005), pp. 23-24; State Dept. 2009. [25] US Department of State (2007) [26] Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy (05 October 2006) “Indonesia Government Imposes Ban Against Female Genital Cutting”,, Accessed 3 June 2010 [27] US Department of State (2010) [28] UN (2011) [29] US Department of State (2011) [30] US Department of State (2011) [31] CEDAW (2005), p. 46. [32] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table 5.1. [33] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Tables 5.9.1 and 6.1. [34] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table 8.4. [35] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table 8.3. [36] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table A-7.2.

Son Bias: 

Data from the 2007 DHS indicates that of children under the age of two included in the survey, 77.1% of girls had received all their vaccinations, compared to 70.1% of boys.[37] Rates of under-five mortality were higher for boys than girls. Gender-disaggregated data regarding rates of malnutrition were unavailable. Overall, this would not indicate bias towards sons in regard to early childhood care.

Gender-disaggregated data on child labour was unavailable.

Enrolment and attendance rates at primary and secondary school are higher for girls than for boys, according to UNICEF.[38] This would indicate no bias towards sons in regard to access to education.

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.[39]

There is no evidence to suggest that Indonesia is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[37] BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Table 12.2 [38] UNICEF (n.d.) [39] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Indonesia’s Civil Code stipulates that men and women have equal ownership rights, and women have full rights concerning access to land and property other than land.[40] In the event of divorce, both spouses retain whatever property they owned individually prior to the marriage and must divide equally any joint property.[41]  In the post-Tsunami reconstruction period, a policy of co-ownership of land was instigated, allowing women to register individually or communally as landowners, according to the 2011 CEDAW report.[42]

Women also have access to bank loans and credit, and have the right to independently conclude contracts.[43] Previous requirements that married women have their husbands co-sign any credit applications have been replaced by a requirement that both husbands and wives obtain the signature of their spouse when making an application for credit.[44] However the equality guaranteed by the law is not always enforced consistently.[45] There appear to be various government schemes in place to enable poorer households to access credit, some specifically targeting women.[46]

[40] CEDAW (2005), pp. 54-55. [41] CEDAW (2005), pp. 55, 58. [42] CEDAW (2011), pp.70-71 [43] CEDAW (2005), pp. 49-50, 55. [44] CEDAW (2011), p.54 [45] CEDAW Working Group Initiative (CWGI) (2007), Independent Report of NGOs Concerning the Implementation of CEDAW in Indonesia, p. 52. [46] CEDAW (2011), pp.60-62, 65-66

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

Women in Indonesia have freedom of access to public space in general, but Islamic law imposes restrictions in certain areas. For example, the government reported in 2011 about several by-laws limiting the freedom and movements of women.[47]

Freedom of speech, assembly and association are generally respected in Indonesia, although the media do operate under certain restrictions.[48] Freedom House reports that there are many active civil society organisations, and this would appear to include many working on women’s rights.[49]

There are no formal barriers to women’s political participation, and Indonesia has written into law several quotas to increase the role of women in the political system, including mandating parties to fill thirty percent of their candidate slots with women, although the percentage of women often falls far short for most.[50] Women currently hold four of the 36 Cabinet seats.[51] As of March 2010, women held 101 of 560 seats in Indonesia’s House of Representatives.[52] Traditionally, the political sphere is seen as the provenance of men.[53] However, public opinion polls provide some evidence that beliefs relating to gender equality in political life are increasing. Over 60 percent of respondents to a 2006 World Values Survey believed that men made better political leaders than women, although a Pew survey from 2007 found that when given the option to rate men and women equally, 52 percent did so, with 43 percent still saying that men performed better.[54]

Women in Indonesia who work are entitled to three months of paid maternity leave. They receive 100 percent of their wages, which are paid for in full by their employer. In addition, pregnant and nursing women receive special protections against dangerous work, and they cannot be discriminated against or fired without cause unrelated to their pregnancy.[55] However, many companies get around these requirements by hiring women as day laborers rather than as full-time employees, which means they are not entitled to maternity leave.[56]

[47] CEDAW (2011) [48] Freedom House (2010) [49] Freedom House (2011); see CEDAW (2011) [50] CEDAW (2005), p. 28. [51] US Department of State (2010). [52] Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010) [53] CEDAW (2011), p.11 [54] CEDAW (2005), p. 21;World Values Survey (WVS) (2006), Question V61; Pew Research Center (2007), Question Q.43. [55] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009) [56] US Department of State (2010).


An archipelago of over 17,000 islands, the country was gradually colonised by the Netherlands from the 17th century onwards, becoming independent in 1949.[57] From 1965 until 1998, Indonesia was under the authoritarian rule of General Suharto; since then, the country has successfully transitioned to democracy.[58] However, parts of the country remain unstable, with independence movements in several provinces, and militant Islamic groups operating in the country.[59] Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population; around 85 percent of its population are Muslims.[60] Indonesia was badly affected by the 2004 Tsunami.[61] Indonesia is classed as a lower-middle income country by the World Bank.[62]

Indonesia has introduced a number of reforms to advance gender equality, including violence against women legislation. However, significant challenges remain, particularly in relation to discriminatory laws and practices with respect to marriage and family.[63] Indonesia has made good progress on women’s education, being close to parity for primary, secondary and tertiary education. However, these gains have not translated to economic empowerment for women, with only 53% of women engaged in the labour market, compared to 87% of men.[64]

The 1945 Constitution prohibit discrimination however this not specific to gender discrimination.[65] Much of Indonesian legislation emphasises the importance of equal opportunities for men and women, but secular laws co-exist with Islamic principles continue to discriminate against Indonesian women.[66] The government recognizes that “Although the Constitution of Indonesia guarantees the equality of men and women in the country, as reflected in various relevant legislation, policies and programmes, their implementation remains a challenge.”[67]

Indonesia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1984, and has signed but not ratified the Optional Protocol.[68]

[57] BBC (n.d.); CIA (2011) [58] BBC (n.d.); CIA (2011) [59 BBC (n.d.) [60] BBC (n.d.); CIA (2011) [61] BBC (n.d.) [62] World Bank (n.d. )[63] CEDAW (2007) [64] World Economic Forum (2011) [65] Articles 28 and 45 of the Constitution of Indonesia, Law No. 39 of 1999 on Human Righ]ts, in Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2005), pp. 3-4, 9.[66] CEDAW (2005), pp, 20-21 [67] Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports to the CEDAW Committee, CEDAW/C/IDN/6-7, 7 January 2011 at paragraph 9. [68] UNTC (2011)


Badan Pusat Statistik-Statistics Indonesia (BPS) and ORC Macro (2003), Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey 2002-2003, BPS and ORC Macro, Calverton, MD.

BPS and ORC Macro (2008), Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey 2007, BPS and ORC Macro: Calverton, Maryland, USA.

BBC (n.d.) ‘Indonesia profile’, BBC News,  (accessed 20 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2011) The World Factbook: Indonesia, online edition, Washington, D.C.: CIA,

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at (accessed 29 February 2012)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Indonesia, Combined Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/IDN/4-5, CEDAW, New York, NY.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2007) Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Indonesia, CEDAW/C/IDN/CO/5, New York.

CEDAW (2011) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of States parties Indonesia, CEDAW/C/IDN/6-7, CEDAW, New York

CEDAW Working Group Initiative (CWGI) (2007), Independent Report of Non-Government Organizations Concerning the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Indonesia, CWGI: Jakarta, Indonesia.

CEDAW (2011) Summary Of Critical Issues, The Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Indonesia, Period: 2007 – 2011Cunningham, C. (2007), Indonesia: Inheritance,

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2004), Fact Sheet Indonesia: Women in Agriculture, Environment and Rural Production, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.

Freedom House (2010) ‘Freedom in the World Country Reports: Indonesia’, (accessed 20 November 2011)

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, ILO: Geneva, Switzerland (accessed 10 March 2010)

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, IPU: Geneva, .

Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy (2006) “Indonesia Government Imposes Ban Against Female Genital Cutting”, 05 October 2006,  (accessed 3 June 2010)

Pew Research Center (2007), Global Attitudes Project: Spring 2007 Survey, Pew Research Center: Washington, DC.

United Nations (UN) (2004), World Fertility Report 2003, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

UN (2008), World Marriage Data 2008, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at (accessed 29 February 2012)

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (n.d.) ‘Statistics – Indonesia’, (accessed 20 November 2011)

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2011), World Abortion Policies 2011, available online: (accessed 1 December 2011)

United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (2011): Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. 

-          CEDAW: (accessed 15 November 2011)

-          Optional Protocol: (accessed 15 November 2011)

US Department of State (2007), 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.

US Department of State (2010), 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.

US Department of State (2011), 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.  (accessed 20 November 2011)

World Bank (n.d.) ‘Data: Indonesia’, Washington, D.C.: World Bank, (accessed 20 November 2011)

World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Index 2010 rankings’,

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at (accessed 2 March 2012)


Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
Son Bias Value 2012: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: