More support needed to keep women in Indonesia’s workforce

June 4, 2023

Many women in Indonesia, especially those with small children, are leaving the workforce due to childcare costs and societal expectations.

The low labour force participation rate of women in Indonesia can be attributed to the unavailability and high cost of childcare facilities, said Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Indonesia’s Minister of Industry.

Speaking at a webinar entitled, Strengthening Ecosystem for Women Workers: Inclusive Workplace Policies, the minister identified the lack of choices for childcare services available at workplaces and residential areas as one of the factors resulting in women leaving their jobs after having children.

Childcare services come at a high cost that is unaffordable to middle-income families, he said. “This often causes women to decide to leave the world of work, especially those who have small children.” Additionally, societal expectations that women prioritise their responsibilities as housewives can make it challenging for them to balance their work and home life.

Currently, only 55.9% of women participate in the Indonesian workforce, with around 81.8% working in the informal sector, despite two-thirds of the female population being of the working age and have a higher level of education, reported Anatra.

In a bid to increase women’s participation rate in the workforce, Indonesia has launched the Pre-Employment Card Programme, which aims to provide jobseekers with work competency development and upskilling opportunities. As of October 2022, the programme has helped improve the skills and financial independence of workers, as well as their financial inclusion, including female entrepreneurs who are encouraged to return to the job market by being self-employed from home.

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