Here’s How You Can Support Women’s Economic Rights
Every year on March 8, women around the globe take to the streets to speak out for their rights, be it political, social, or economic. In Indonesia and many parts of the world, women are still largely marginalized from access to opportunities in the socio-economic sphere. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, let’s talk about how we can step up our support for Indonesian women’s economic rights.
Give women access to credit
Access to financial services is an important economic right, both for women and men. However, women who are small business owners in Indonesia say they still often find it difficult to access formal credit that will help them run and expand their business. This is the case despite the fact that women-owned small and medium enterprises constitute almost half of Indonesia’s SME market. Furthermore, according to a report by the International Finance Corporation, women-owned SMEs have “prospects of offering profitable returns without taking on undue risks” for financial-services institutions that are willing to lend to them.
Unfortunately, women businesses are still largely a part of what we call the “missing middle”; they are too small and too risky for commercial banks but too big for microfinance institutions to fund. But here is where you can play a part, and a very important one at that.
You can give women-owned businesses in Indonesia access to credit by funding their loans via a peer-to-peer platform like MEKAR. MEKAR is a fintech lending platform that connects you with women borrowers in 146 cities and regencies in 21 provinces in Indonesia. Lenders in MEKAR have funded over 66,500 small business loans, helping borrowers grow their business and improve their livelihood. The up to 12.5% flat return per year that lenders receive is icing on the cake to the positive impact that they create by funding those loans.
You too can be one of the lenders who make a real difference by giving Indonesian women access to small business loans via MEKAR. Visit the website to learn more.
Educate women around you about their rights to assets after divorce
Going through a divorce is a difficult and stressful process. And for many women, a divorce from a partner who has always been the sole breadwinner at home, may also lead them to poverty. This is why it is important for women to recognize their rights to matrimonial assets.
In Indonesian laws, the distribution of joint marital property, that is property acquired by each and every spouse in matrimony, must be arranged in accordance with respective law. The respective law here means religious law, ethnic law, and other applicable laws. That means that if a woman and her spouse are Moslems, any distribution of marital property between them must refer to the Compilation of Islamic Law 1991, which stipulates that upon dissolution of a marriage, a spouse has the right to one-half of all property during marriage.
Although the law has made it clear that women have the right to a share of marital property, some women may be unaware of it or not entirely sure of how to demand their rights. So if you know a female friend or a family member who is going through a divorce, be there for them and give them the support they need by providing information on their rights after a divorce.
Make sure your workplace has its paid maternity leave policy in order
When women are given the option to be away from work after childbirth, she can use that opportunity to recover and bond with her newborn baby. And if she gets paid to do that, she is less likely to end up in a precarious economic situation and more likely to stay longer with her company.
What you can do for your female colleagues who are on their way to becoming a new mother or who are considering becoming pregnant in the future is to stand up for their rights to a paid maternity or parental leave. Make sure that your company has a paid maternity leave policy and that it complies with the applicable laws and regulations.
Indonesia’s labor law says that a worker is entitled to one and a half months of maternity leave prior to giving birth and another one and a half months after. An employee’s maternity leave period may be extended if she receives a letter from her obstetrician stating that additional leave days are required. During maternity leave, an employee is entitled to her basic salary and fixed allowances, as well as medical reimbursement.
Want to take your support up a notch? Fight for better and longer paternity leave for male workers too as this would improve fathers’ engagement and involvement in childcare and, in the long run, contributes greatly to women’s empowerment.