8 March 2020 – International Women’s Day: Building Peace with FM Retno Marsudi

07 Mar 2020

“Women are the key to sustainable peace, from family to country, to the world. Peace cannot be forced, but must be cultivated.” Words spoken by president Joko Widodo at the start in 2017 of a partnership between UN Women and the Wahid Foundation called ‘Empowered women, peaceful communities’. “Let’s build and spread the value of peace to the country and to the world.”

In spreading this message to the world the president has the help of Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs. She is proud about what women empowerment in Indonesia thus far has accomplished. “In Indonesia, women empowerment has managed to shift the common mindset about women, from helpless victims to strong and brave women,” she said at a Ministerial Level panel discussion, held in the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (26/9/2019).

This reminds us of a quote by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 during her visit to Jakarta: “If you want to know if Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.”

Retno Marsudi now is Indonesia’s first female foreign minister who has championed women’s empowerment in foreign policy and peacebuilding. For her efforts she received In September 2017 the Agent of Change award from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Global Partnership Forum (GPF) at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Here are three examples of Retno’s commitment and dedication to women’s empowerment.

First. Early March 2020 the minister will, with Indonesian women leaders, visit Kabul to formalize the formation of the Afghanistan-Indonesia Women’s Women’s Network.  She has been encouraging the empowerment of Afghan women so they might play a more significant role in peacebuilding. Afghanistan as an ultrapatriarchal country needs more inclusive policies and the promotion of affirmative action.

Second. In 2020 Indonesia for the second time will organize the Regional Training on Women, Peace, and Security. The South East Asia Network of Women Peace Negotiators and Mediators strives to strengthen the contribution of women in promoting sustainable peace in the ASEAN region.

Third. In Palestine Indonesia has provided assistance to  women in refugees camps in Jordan through business literacy and entrepeneurship programs. As the minister says: “Women’s empowerment is an important element in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

By Monica Bouman and Andhika Rutten

PS We know Retno Marsudi well from her time as Ambassador of Indonesia to the Netherlands, and we highly appreciate the way she is always dedicated to her work – professionally and personally.