"There is no problem if the number of woman legislators in the House of Representatives (DPR) is small, provided that they are qualified and can work for the people," Dewi Motik Pramono, the general chairperson of the Indonesian Womens Congress (Kowani), stated on Monday.
"The quota of 30 percent seats in the DPR is meaningless if they are not qualified. Can we mention how many qualified woman legislators are there in the House now? For me, it will be better to have 20 or 30 woman legislators in the House as long as they are qualified," Dewi noted when contacted by Antara.
Therefore, Dewi pointed out that she was one of those who did not agree with the 30 percent quota concept for women on the list of legislative candidates. The most important thing is quality, rather than quantity.
In this case, Vera Febyanthy of the DPRs Commission XI on national development affairs proposed on Monday that political parties should recruit qualified women as their prospective legislators.
She emphasized that the General Elections Commission (KPU) should set a criteria to filter out qualified legislators, particularly with regard to education level and experience in political organizations.
After all, such requirements have not yet been put forth by the KPU. Although some political parties have set their own criteria in this case, yet they are not yet standardized.
She added that such requirements were still adopted at the political party level, as they have their own different standards and policies.
Therefore, Vera called upon the KPU to tighten its criteria for would-be legislators so that the quality of elected candidates can be increased in the House.
"Women should also have the courage to voice their opinions when they are assigned roles in the different departments of the House," she affirmed.
She stressed that in order to increase the number of qualified women in the House, the KPU should tighten its requirements for those who wanted to be nominated as legislative candidates.
The strict requirements should be applicable not just to woman legislative candidates, but also on male candidates.
"The requirements can include, for instance, minimal strata I graduation background and minimum two years experience with political parties. Candidates should have experience with political parties. So, political parties cannot nominate legislative candidates at will," she elaborated.
Women should be able to take leadership positions in the parliament. Therefore, the political parties must nominate qualified woman candidates who can assume leadership positions in the various departments of the DPR.
"They should also think of the Houses commissions which are right for women legislators. I think, each of the DPRs organs should have at least one woman as a leader," remarked Vera Febyanthy.
Kowani Chairperson Dewi Motik Pramono seconded Veras opinion on the importance of standard requirements for would-be legislators.
According to Dewi, the quality of the legislators in question is not only for women, but also for men. She pointed out that unqualified male legislators outnumber qualified lawmakers.
"We have a population of 250 million, of which 49 percent are women. Compared to Singapore, whose population is far smaller, we are still behind. This is because many of our lawmakers are still not qualified even though we are a country of 250 million," she emphasized.
This is the reason for Dewi not agreeing to the 30 percent quota concept, as it will only lead to political parties nominating women simply to meet the 30 percent quota.
"As a result, anyone can be included in the political parties legislative candidate lists. Hot artists, secret wives of officials and singers can be included in the list of legislative candidates," Dewi argued.
Yet, Dewi is optimistic that women who are successful in the upcoming legislative elections and become lawmakers will be able to show good performance and help the people, particularly those in their electoral districts or constituencies.
Women should fight for the interests of not just their groups, but also of the people in general.
"Fighting for the peoples interests should not necessarily be carried out in the House. Women can work for the advancement of the nation anywhere. Moreover, if they are in the House, they have to fight for the interest of the nation because they are paid salaries by the money collected from the people," she stressed.
She reminded that women play an important role as the pillar of the state. If women are really qualified, Indonesia will also surely become a qualified country.
In the meanwhile, Legislator Nurul Arifin of Commission II on home affairs of the DPR stated that women should understand issues developing in society so that they can contribute in the formulation of solutions to problems emerging among the people.
"It should not always be political issues. There are many social problems that need solutions, which should be formulated by woman legislators," she claimed.
So, if they are elected to become members of the DPR, women should not be trapped into choosing the House commission, which so far, is considered to have the "stereotype" tasks of handling womens affairs.
"For example, I am in Commission II, which is not related to womens affairs. Women, wherever they are, should always showcase their capabilities," Nurul, who is re-nominated as a legislative candidate by the Golkar Party in the upcoming elections, noted.
Therefore, woman legislative candidates must have an agenda on what they are going to fight for when selected as the members of the DPR in the upcoming legislative elections on April 9, 2014, Nurul Arifin added.
"It should not always be issues pertaining to women. But, whatever issues, they have knowledge of," Nurul remarked.
Currently, a total of 12 national political parties are conducting a 21-day campaign, starting from March 16 to April 5, for the April 9 legislative elections.
They are contesting to win the votes of about 185.8 million eligible voters and to secure the 560 seats that are at stake in the parliament. (*)