R.A. Kartini’s struggle has opened opportunities for Indonesian women to have equal access and opportunities as men to various things outside domestic affairs.

After Kartini’s day commemoration has passed since it was established in 1964, have we achieved gender equality in Indonesia? In this article, I would like to particularly highlight gender equality in the business world in our country and the important role played by communication practitioners in achieving gender equality.

According to World Bank data in its annual report titled Women, Business, and the Law 2023, gender equality in the economic sector has not been fully guaranteed by the laws in Indonesia. This year, our country received a cumulative score of 70.6 out of a total of 100. This figure is an increase from 2022, which was 64.4. However, we still rank 8th out of a total of 11 ASEAN countries. Therefore, we cannot be complacent about this.

The World Bank believes that women cannot fully participate in the economy when their country’s legal system restricts them, fails to protect them from violence, and still discriminates against them in the workplace. According to the World Bank, the country’s economy will become stronger and more dynamic when all citizens can contribute equally. For example, during the B20 Summit in Bali, Mari Elka Pangestu, Managing Director of Policy Development and Cooperation of the World Bank, said that financially, gender equality can add around US$11 trillion to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Although gender equality contributes positively to a country’s economic growth, this does not automatically make its implementation easy. Many countries are still struggling to reduce gender inequality. Even in a speech commemorating International Women’s Day 2023, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said gender equality will only be achieved in 300 years.

According to Antonio Guterres, in many countries women’s rights are abused, threatened and violated. This inequality persists around the world, and specifically in Indonesia, which according to the latest Global Gender Gap World Economic Forum report is still ranked 92nd out of 146 countries. This condition urges us to make joint efforts to achieve the fifth sustainable development goal (SDG) target, namely gender equality.

Gender Equality and “Public Affairs”

Looking at the development of the business world in recent years, it is clear that the public affairs and communication function has become very strategic within the corporation. Social and political dynamics mean that the top management of the corporations need strong support in navigating the changes that occur. Public affairs and corporate communication positions can be advocates for gender equality both internally and externally, as they have close access to decision-makers within the organisations.

In an era when companies are increasingly required by stakeholders to carry out sustainable business practices and when environmental, social, governance (ESG) ratings are the main considerations for investors, public affairs and communication are required to help ensure gender equality is one of the main agendas of organizations. As an integral part of sustainability practices, we need to reassure internal stakeholders and ensure that companies have policies and systems in place that can ensure the implementation of gender equality.

This will enable female employees to reach their optimal potential so that they can later drive organizational growth. Many studies prove that when companies provide equal opportunities to employees based on performance without discriminating against certain genders, the company’s productivity also increases and this will also have an indirect impact on the country’s economic growth.

On the other hand, by implementing policies that encourage gender equality for external parties, such as for business associations, communities around the company’s operating area, and other groups relevant to the organization, we also contribute to the success of the big agenda of achieving one of the sustainable development goals. Serious efforts to become the government’s partner will also certainly have a positive impact on our company’s operations and reputation.

Practical Guide

Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are seven principles initiated by the United Nations Global Compact and United Nations Women. It contains guidelines for businesses on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, business, and society. Each principle is equipped with practical steps that can be implemented by the company, ranging from strategic levels such as top management commitment and policies, to tactical matters such as promotion, wages, health and comfort at work, as well as supply chain matters, supervision and reporting.

Since the beginning, we at Kiroyan Partners have been committed to ethical business practices. Thus, anti-discrimination practices are always applied in all aspects of company operations. To reinforce the company’s support for gender equality in Indonesia, our company also signed the WEPs Commitment. WEPs are very useful for organizations, large and small, to be able to start real steps and then be able to increase commitment and improve implementation gradually.

Hopefully this year’s Kartini commemoration will encourage all of us, especially public affairs and communication practitioners, to actively participate in efforts to improve gender equality, for a better Indonesia and the world. As a first step, we can participate in signing this WEPs Commitment.

This article has been published in PR Indonesia magazine 97th edition issued on April 2023, page 60-61.

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