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When it comes to the fight for women's equality in Indonesia, the name Raden Ajeng Kartini always comes to mind. Her thoughts and struggles in the past have inspired modern women in Indonesia to fight stereotypes and discrimination in all areas of life, including the workplace.

Nowadays, women can be seen in a range of high profile leadership positions. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, for example, was named as the first female Minister of Finance in Indonesia’s history, and won the best Minister of Finance in the world title last year for her outstanding fiscal management during the current pandemic. Similarly, Najwa Shihab, has become arguably one of Indonesia’s most respected female journalists today.

At a global level, Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman and woman of color to become the US Vice President. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has been praised globally for her leadership in in managing the Covid-19 pandemic in her country.

Despite these positive role models, progress towards gender equality is far from complete. Based on last year’s Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data, there is an imbalance in the Labor Force Participation Rate (TPAK) in Indonesia - 53.13% for women and 82.41% for men.

According to research done by McKnsey in 2018, Indonesia can add $135 billion to its annual gross domestic product by 2025 if the country can improve gender equality in the workplace by 56%.

There are still many cases where women are forced to leave work due to the requirements of parenting. In addition, women in Indonesia earn less on average per month than men as the gender pay gap still stands at nearly 23%.

Celebrated every April 21, Kartini Day is a moment for us to think how we much further can we go to challenge inequality.

To address the issue of inequality and in alignment with its commitment to be an equal opportunity employer, APRIL is promoting equal opportunities and participation for its female employees. Moreover, as a company that supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), APRIL seeks to ensure full and effective participation of women employees.

In the next section, you will find three female leaders at APRIL, E-commerce & Marketing Manager Patricia Dharmawan, Corporate Legal Manager Astiyanty, and Talent Acquisition Margareta Herawan, sharing their passion and insights on how to challenge the stigma and barriers women face in the workplace.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Margareta: As a talent acquisition professional, what I love most about this role is meeting new people! This job allows me to meet countless people from various backgrounds. I also enjoy witnessing our recruited talents grow and perform well in the company. I feel so proud!

Patricia: As a sales and marketing professional, I really enjoy how the role challenges me to be dynamic and creative. We all know the sales environment is ever-changing and consumers come first. This keeps me on my toes and forces me to stay agile in meeting all of our customers’ needs.

Astiyanty: I am a great negotiator! This job always requires me to hone my negotiating skills, using my legal expertise. So, I am challenged every day and I love it!

 

To celebrate Kartini Day, what changes do you want to see?

Patricia: I want to challenge the stigma and stereotypes that still exist in society, where women are sometimes still viewed as unequal to men. For example, an outspoken woman is often seen as ‘bossy’ and not as a potential leader. At APRIL, I feel fortunate that there is no limitation for us to showcase our talent and abilities. In fact, the company ensures the effective participation of women equitably through our APRIL2030 strategy.

Astiyanty: We have to challenge existing stigmas and stereotypes. When a woman is persistent, we are often viewed as stubborn or difficult to work with. We must abolish this bias because men and women can actually provide the same result. In fact, women can frequently do things better! I hope women will have more space to express their creativity, and compete on an equal basis with men, which will in turn help us to achieve better career paths.

Margareta: We need to challenge the perception that women are not able to be successful both in the workplace and family. It is time to put that assumption aside and show that a balance between life and work for women is easily achieved with a supportive environment. At APRIL, we have a good foundation toward that setting. Workers can get paid leave, maternity and paternity leave, as well as menstrual leave. More importantly, we have equal opportunities to improve and upgrade our skills.

What barriers have you faced, as women, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

Astiyanty: My role as a Legal Manager requires long hours. However, I am fortunate to be able to overcome this challenge with the support of my husband and family! I also try my best to allocate time so that work, family, social life and other matters are in harmony.

Margareta: As a practitioner in the Human Resources field, I am required to work with data and have the ability to quickly understand people’s characteristics. This sometimes can be time consuming. To avoid burnout, I balance work by getting some "me time" by reading and exercising. I love to swim and going for walks.

Patricia: Sometimes I find it difficult to reach agreements with clients, only because I'm a woman. Moreover, the sales industry is in some ways still male dominated and clients sometimes prefer to ask male colleagues for help. I face this challenge by continuously showing our clients that men and women are equal. I ensure to bring value to our clients, deep dive into the landscape of our industry and analyze current trends that will help us make the best decisions for both companies and clients.

 

How important it is for women to lift each other up and what does it mean to you?

Patricia: Very important! No one understands women better than women themselves. Therefore, we really need to always provide support and respect for other women’s efforts and actions. When women support each other, amazing things can happen!

Astiyanty: Support from fellow women means a lot, especially when we are down. Perhaps, there are fellow women who have faced similar situations in the past. It is time for women to support each other to achieve more. The power of the pack!

Margareta: To improve equality, I believe encouraging and supporting other women is key! Did you know that women who support other women are more successful at work? So, one of the ways to overcome inequality is to share best practices when faced with similar situations to as many women as possible. This way, we can help to win this fight against the current unfavorable stigmas.

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