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  • Context

    Indonesia is one of the four Southeast Asian countries where Voice is active.  Hivos coordinates the Voice programme here. We live in a rapidly changing world – some changes may be for the better – others not so much. In order to continue to ground Voice in local lived realities, a country context analysis is organised every other year, engaging many stakeholders, grantees and rightsholders.  The analysis is used to frame Calls for Proposals, to support the applications of grant-seekers and to advance the overall learnings .Below follows a summary of the exercise conducted in 2020, capturing the many views and perspectives of Indonesians. The summary is structured by presenting the big picture and slowly but surely to zoom in on the voices and aspirations of the rightsholders and to zoom out again by sharing the way forward for Voice. This page can also be downloaded at the bottom of the page. A full report and previous versions can be availed to you upon request. Please contact Indonesia@voice.global

    Zooming out

    The big picture

    • The Human Development Index is an index that combines data on life expectancy, education, and per capita income to rank countries. HDI ranking has slightly improved between 2016 and 2019 but unfortunately, this hasn't translated into a better standard of living for many rightsholders concerned.
    • The IHDI measures the human development cost of inequality, or the overall loss to human development due to inequality. The closer to 1 the more equal a society is. The IHDI can inform policies towards inequality reduction. Inequality has lessened slightly between 2016 and 2019 but is still a persistent problem for many of the groups Voice works with.
    • The GII is an inequality index, measuring the human development costs of gender inequality economically, health- and education-wise. The closer to 0 the better. While on the surface it looks like gender equality has improved it continues to be challenged in the country with new laws impacting women’s access to justice and reproductive rights.
    • According to the independent Civicus Monitor which started in 2016, civic space continues to be obstructed in Indonesia. Civic space continues to be obstructed especially on issues related to LGBTI rights. West Papua also continues to face human rights violations and civil repression as they continue to fight for their independence.

    Behind the numbers

    Even though the Indonesian government sees the country as democratic and populist, legislation tends to silence dissent and restrict civil society. Religious conservative groups have moved to further obstruct civic space for activism and civic engagement. Komnas HAM (National Human Rights Commission) and Komnas Perempuan (National Commission on Violence Against Women) released reports showing attacks on human rights defenders, especially those focusing on minority and marginalised groups, are increasing and getting worse. In general, the exclusion of rightsholders continue, specifically within the intersection of group identity and social class. There is improvement however, in the rightsholders’ situation due to improved access to education and technology as well as their capacities to support campaigns and advocacies. Recognition of rightsholders groups by civil society organisations (CSOs), select government bodies and private institutions have also increased.

    Political shifts

    Conservative and religious groups have seen a steady rise of their influence in Indonesian politics. Their allies and representatives in legislative bodies have introduced several bills and draft local regulations that further discrimination, stigma, and criminalisation of certain groups in society[1][2][3]. Local regulations are often negated by varied understandings of inclusion. For example, the government and parliament of Jogjakarta proposed a draft bill to build schools for students with disabilities. Advocates however have marked the bill as a setback for inclusive education practices that have been implemented in many schools where students with disabilities interact with those without disabilities. [1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/09/18/indonesia-draft-criminal-code-disastrous-rights [2] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-parliament-continues-deliberation-of-controversial-family-resilience-bill [3] https://magdalene.co/story/the-struggle-to-pass-anti-sexual-violence-bill-in-indonesia

    Economic shifts

    Indonesia’s economy has been growing at more than 5% over the last few years. Economic growth however has not translated to inclusive growth for Voice rightsholders. Women’s socio-economic position has been weakening in the face of growing conservatism and dogmatic perspectives on religion. The recently passed Omnibus Law on Job Creation[1] includes provisions reducing paid maternity leave and days-off due to menstrual pains. Similarly, the revised Coal and Mining Act increases the area of each mining operation leading to more development aggression in many indigenous communities. A state paradigm focused on productivity continues to negatively impact rightsholder groups such as the elderly who are considered to be less or unproductive. The youth may seem to have the advantage with the government’s efforts to get young people in the labour market and promote multi-service platforms. These policies and workplaces though potentially ignore workers’ rights such as work safety guarantee, wage equality, and inclusive work situations. Growth in the digital economy has improved the economic capacity and livelihood development of people with disabilities where they could market their products online. [1] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/06/indonesia-mass-strikes-loom-over-cuts-to-environmental-safeguards-and-workers-rights

    Social shifts

    Controversial national policies, such as the Anti-Sexual Violence Bill (RUU-PKS) and the Omnibus Law have succeeded in strengthening the public discourse on sexual violence as on social media and public protests. Further, sexual violence is now included as one of the indicators for the National Women Life Behaviour survey of the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) and Statistics Indonesia (BPS), which shows state recognition on the issue. The situation has improved at the community level where the rightsholders and Voice grantees reported the reduced stigma towards them, creating a more inclusive atmosphere. Most of these positive views came from People with Disabilities, age-discriminated groups, women victims of violence, and indigenous communities.

    (Visible) power shifts

    A notable visible shift can be observed within the indigenous communities as they exhibit an increased awareness on the importance of being involved in policy-making at the local level and in the fulfilment of the Constitutional Court’s decision to include local beliefs in the national identity card. Another positive, visible shift is the Youth’s ability to quickly consolidate resources with other movements working on issues of democracy, human rights, and oppression of minority groups.


    The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affects the rightsholders, some more than the others. The elderly and people with disabilities, considered to be at higher risk, face heightened challenges in accessing basic social services and productive resources. Reported domestic violence cases also increased as people are highly advised to stay at home, confining people who are in abusive situations with their perpetrators. The LGBTI community, women, and youth face a heightened economic challenge as they lose their sources of income. Those in the informal work sector, on the other, are more susceptible to COVID-19 exposure. Amidst all this, the rightsholders are hesitant to access health services due to the high risk of exposure to the virus, especially with the poor performance in health crisis response. Some groups, such as the transgender people, find it more difficult due to the absence of a national ID that reflects their gender identity.

    Zooming in 

    Voices behind the picture

    The Youth has been observably active in various advocacies and initiatives. However, youth activists in rural areas continue to face suspicion by local leaders who typically belong to the older generation. On the other hand, the Elderly tend to be solitary and continue to experience stigma due to lack of acceptance from the (local) government toward their ideas— often labelled as post-power syndrome. This syndrome results to feelings of emptiness, sadness, lack of energy, among others. Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities communities’ involvement in policymaking has been hampered by the lack of space and opportunities for capacity-strengthening to actualise their advocacies. Indigenous communities and their supporters need to sustain their livelihoods while resisting state forces and investors. They have potentially heightened risks in the next several years due to increase in investments from the large extractive industries. The use of the military, police, and paramilitary to protect investments has increased the threat and intimidations. Meanwhile, having indigenous women at the forefront has minimised the risk of criminalisation and persecution of protest actions but this also increase the risk of gender-based violence. The LGBTI community remains under threat by the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) and Pornography Law which subject them to criminalisation, especially those involved in sex work. However, the law can be a double-edged sword as it has also enabled a transwoman to file a case of harassment against a YouTube vlogger but was eventually withdrawn. CSOs who have outreached, collaborated, and defended LGBTI groups and individuals who have suffered from physical violence in the forms of raids at their office, disbandment of activities by intolerant groups and harassment on social media. Elderly who part of the disabilities movement tend to maintain a humanitarian approach to organising. During a focus group discussion with the rightsholders, People with Disabilities expressed they increased their courage to speak and it mainly comes from self-empowerment. Women facing exploitation, abuse and/or violence are still in a weak socio-economic position in the face of growing religious conservatism makes them more vulnerable to being trapped in recruitment in terrorism. The women’s movement is also seen as a dissident movement under regular surveillance from intelligence agencies and threatened by intolerant groups.

    Their aspirations

    The Elderly, perceived as an economic burden, aspire for equitable access to economic opportunities. They continue to work towards more accessible basic social services, especially in relation to health. Meanwhile, the Youth envisions more participatory village-level policymaking processes. They also aspire for more inclusive education services. They want to further strengthen their ability to connect with other rightsholder groups and develop a more intersectional lens, especially for those in the rural areas. Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities continue their struggle for political participation, environmental sustainability, and recognition of their beliefs and traditions. Additionally, indigenous human rights defenders need safety and security support as they continue to be in the frontline of this struggle. As one of the most left behind among the rightsholder groups in Indonesia, the LGBTI community aspire for SOGIE-inclusive laws and policies. Equally important to them is the continued awareness-raising to stop the stigma and violence against them. The People with Disabilities community’s goal, on the other hand, is to continue raising awareness and recognition, and access to social and economic services, especially for women and youth with disabilities. For women facing exploitation, abuse and/or violence, increased knowledge on legal procedures and empowerment of young women facing abuse is a key aspiration of the rightsholder group.

    Zooming out 

    Fostering change

    This analysis has brought forward a number of issues of particular importance for Voice grantees and the rightsholder groups they are part of or work with. Based on conversations and other forms of data collection   with the rightsholder groups, Voice Indonesia is set to support on these opportunities and needs in the coming years by:

    • Supporting advocacies that foster an intersectional lens, strengthening cross-cutting collaborations;
    • Focusing on Influencing projects both at the national and community-level. National-level advocacies will focus on responding to controversial bills/policies such as the Omnibus Law and Anti-Sexual Violence Bill, among others. On the other hand, community-based influencing projects will be focused on contextual issues and in relation to the Village Fund. Within the scope of these Influencing projects is the particular support for human rights defenders;
    • Designing Empowerment Calls for Proposals (CfPs) focusing on rightsholder-led organisations to strengthen their personal/community protection capacities and foster inter-movement solidarity;
    • Developing Innovate and Learn CfPs and/or a regional Innovation Lab that aim to further maximise opportunities for the economic empowerment, advocacy capacities, and mainstreaming human rights protection of rightsholders; and
    • Strengthening outreach for smaller influencing campaigns from community and rightsholder-led groups.

    Continuing the strategy to foster inter-movement solidarity is the key to succeeding in the different pro-human rights advocacies. The five rightsholder groups must continue to be connected with various civil society movements, especially influence- and social media-based youth movements, labour movements, women’s movements, and human rights and justice movements, in order to continue being exposed in enabling environments and to supporters.

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Voice Indonesia Yayasan Hivos, 18 Office Park, 15th floor, Unit B Jl. TB Simatupang No.18 Jakarta Selatan 12520 Indonesia T: 62 21 27876233 | F: 62 21 27876242 indonesia@voice.global


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