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Newsletter August 2020 | Keeping Doors Open for Women

“Mum! Where are my textbooks!??”

“Hello? My connection was lost, can you repeat that?”

*knock knock* “Delivery!”

Dear readers,

Are those sounds familiar to you?

Like the CIPS team, you are probably working from home. Some of you have children, live with parents, or have partners also working remotely under the same roof. How have you managed family life in lockdown? Since Indonesian women do 85% of all the unpaid work at home, it is safe to say they must be more affected than men.

The pandemic has certainly impacted everyone in some way. Yet, Indonesian women are at a higher risk of job loss because their employment tends to be concentrated at the base of value chains. They work in garment factories, customer service, or own a small informal business. And they are on the front line of job cuts when businesses can no longer afford staff.

This is bad news, especially since women participation in Indonesia’s formal workforce is already low. Only 51% of women are represented compared to 84% of men. With half of Indonesia’s population being women, the country is losing out on half its talent pool.

So why aren’t we seeing more women in the workplace?

To be sure, there are cultural and many other reasons for that. The government does not make it any easier. There are regulations that won’t allow childcare services to operate within 1.5 km of each other. Such regulations discourage private initiatives and valuable services for local communities. CIPS is currently preparing a study about the childcare services market for mothers wishing to return to the workplace or start a business. We’ll let you know when the paper is ready for download on our website.

Ms. Novi is a great example. Working abroad gave her the necessary experience and capital. When she came back, she opened a daycare center for families in her village in Central Java. Ms. Novi was one of several migrant workers who became entrepreneurs and whose personal story CIPS told in this video.

With all the constraints in the labor markets, women opt for opening small businesses. In fact, more than 50% of micro-small businesses in Indonesia are women owned, most of them informal. The boom of the digital economy has provided them with new opportunities, but this door seems to be closing. Online sellers will now have to register as formal businesses and get a permit. If only acquiring these permits was an easy task! In the ‘starting a business’ category of the Ease of Doing Business Index, Indonesia ranks on position 140 among 190 economies. And that’s just looking at the situation in Indonesia’s two most modern cities.

CIPS is working on more choices for women. In the case of e-commerce, we’re advocating for the exemption of microbusinesses from registration requirements. We are also working to ensure the general progress of the digital economy with all its importance for Indonesian livelihoods. In July, we held a 4-day virtual conference engaging the public and private sectors in discussions about the future of Indonesia’s digital economy. Some sessions were in English and you can watch the recordings here.

In the meantime, I think I heard my doorbell ring! This should be the delivery of some home decorations. Or is it my lunch

Salam hangat,

Rainer Heufers


CIPS in the News


Don't forget to check out and download our policy papers here. Through these papers, we present evidence-based arguments to recommend policy changes that focus on building prosperity and better livelihoods for low-income Indonesians.

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