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Published by: University of Sydney (March 2018)

Country / Region: Indonesia

Women, Work and Care (Indonesia)

15 August 2018

The Women, Work and Care report is a comprehensive summary of the current situation of women in Indonesia, published by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney. The report finds that Indonesia continues to face significant challenges when it comes to achieving women’s equality, with cultural expectations around gender roles holding women back in the workplace and constraining women’s economic empowerment.

While Indonesian women have always been relatively economically active, social norms continue to demand that women (as wives, mothers and daughters) remain first and foremost committed to caring for their husbands, children and parents. The report details that women business owners still consider their primary role as that of wife and mother rather than business woman, and even where women earn the larger share of household income, they are still considered to be ‘secondary earners.’

The report highlights that women’s family responsibilities of caring for young children and the elderly are necessitated by the absence of state provisions that could otherwise support women to be active in the workforce. While the Indonesian government has a ‘national vision’ on women’s empowerment and has introduced a number of policies to support this, there has been limited success in its implementation and progress remains slow.

The Women, Work and Care report also illustrates how gender equality in Indonesia intersects with socio-economic inequalities, as women from wealthier segments of society are able to employ domestic help and are therefore afforded greater equality than those from lower socio-economic groups.


  • Women in the family
  • The distribution of unpaid care work
  • Balancing work and care
  • Policy challenges


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