Indonesia has been known as the peace-loving country. Having a background of being colonized urged it to spread the peace around the world. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) found that Indonesia has already fulfilled the conditions in Article 4 of the Charter of the United Nations by becoming a peace-loving country.
Through Resolution 86, the UNSC recommended to the United Nations General Assembly that the Republic of Indonesia be admitted to membership of the United Nations (UN).
The resolution had become the consideration for the UN to admit Indonesia to the member of the UN. Two days after Resolution 86, Indonesia officially joined the 60th UN member state.
Indonesia has made a lot of contributions to the UN. One of those contributions is being active in the UNSC. Indonesia has been elected as the non-permanent member of the UNSC four times. In the 1972 UNSC election, Indonesia was selected as the non-permanent member of the UNSC for two-year mandates commencing on 1 January 1973 with 115 votes from the member states.
A few years later, Indonesia was re-elected for two-year terms as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 1995 – 1996 period. The country took a non-permanent seat on January 1st, 1995. Through the membership, once again, Indonesia proved its capability in ensuring global peace and security.
Even though Indonesia was not a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the past ten years, it keeps fighting for global peace and security. In the 2006 UNSC election, Indonesia was re-elected as the non-permanent member of the UNSC for two-year mandates with 158 votes from the member states.
The membership was commenced on 1 January 2007. Knowing as a state that had independent foreign policy and had close relations with major powers, Asia, Indonesia was remarked as an asset in ensuring global peace and security.
Indonesia has proven that it is capable of maintaining security and stability at a regional level. Jusuf Kalla (JK), current Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, added that Indonesia has enough experiences in about ensure global security through Kontingen Garuda. It led to the chance of candidacy for a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 2019 – 2020 period.
As the member states recognized the capability of Indonesia in maintaining security and stability, Indonesia successfully gained 144 votes out of 190-member states during the 2018 UNSC election. Indonesia was elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC representing the Asia-Pacific Group. Being a non-permanent member of the UNSC is remarked as a fantastic achievement. JK also said that the UN’s policy is mostly created by the UNSC which means that Indonesia has a significant role in ensuring global peace and security.
One of the policies brought by Indonesia as a newly elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020 is to increase the amount of female representation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Corps.
Other main focuses of Indonesia as the non-permanent member of the UNSC include assisting and advocating issues on Palestine dispute; enhancing the synergy between regional organizations and the UNSC to maintaining peace; encouraging the formation of global comprehensive approach to fight terrorism, radicalism, and extremism; and encouraging global partnership to achieve synergy in peacekeeping and sustainable development.
In the open debate for UNSC membership election held on March 28th, 2018 in the UN Headquarters, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, emphasized on the importance to increase the involvement of women in peacekeeping missions by adding more female personnel in the UN Peacekeeping Corps. According to her, in the peacekeeping mission of the UN, women are easier to soothe the hearts and thoughts of local people in the armed conflict areas and tend to be more effective in protecting civilians from sexual exploitation and violence.
One of few examples of Indonesian female participation in the UN Peacekeeping Corps is Indonesia’s participation in sending troops for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Among 854 troops, there were 18 female troops involved in the mission.
Aside from the military troops, Indonesia has also sent 30 female police officers to the mission as well. Retno Marsudi suggests that the world’s female deployment has increased significantly from 1% female representation in 1993 to 10% of represent-ation in 2014. It shows that Indonesia has been active in involving women in peacekeeping missions.
However, Indonesia still faces a few struggles in maintaining its female representation. As much as it has increased in number, the female representation of Indonesian troops in the Peacekeeping Corps is still considered as low. One of the main factors that affect the low rate of female representation is because of the admission process for female troops in the Indonesian Armed Forces.
The admission process requires a virginity test, a test which is conducted by military doctors to test whether the applicant’s hymen is still intact by inserting two fingers to the applicant’s genitalia. The applicant who is not proven to be a virgin shall fail the test. It is believed that the test is done because for the reason of protecting the morals and dignity of the nation. The test is not only done towards the troop applicants, but also to the spouses of male troops before they are getting married.
The World Health Organization has considered that virginity test should be banned, because such test will leave several traumas to the applicant psychologically and physically. Aside from that, the virginity test procedure is considered as violating privacy and creating uncomfortable situations because most of the doctors who run virginity test are males.
It is also believed that a female troop’s ability is not judged by her sexual activity status, but through her capacity in completing assignments. There is an act of inequality and gender biased misconception because the male troops are not required to do the test above because they do not have any biological evidence of their sexual activities.
To increase the Indonesian women re-presentation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Corps, a safer admission environment and procedure should be created. In a few cases, an unsafe environment may lead to the incapability of women troops to complete their series of tests. The test procedure should be done objectively and be focused on the abilities of the applicants as the potential troops instead of her sexual status.
The best way to create such safer and more objective admission is to erase virginity test for female applicants. By erasing the virginity test, female troops will be judged by their performance instead of other external factors. It will also open more opportunities for women who initially do not suit the requirements and finally are able to admit themselves to the program.
By creating such a safe admission environment and erasing the virginity test procedure, there will no longer be bad stigmas, such as sexual abuse done during the admission process, circling around the process.
This will lead to the increase of Indonesian women’s desire to apply for the Armed Forces, in which not only will gain the amount of female troops in the country, but also to gain the amount of female troops in the United Nations Peacekeeping Corps as a part of Indonesia’s foreign policy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 2019-2020.
In conclusion, increasing Indonesian women re-presentation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Corps is important, because women are easier to soothe the hearts and thoughts of local people in the armed conflict areas and tend to be more effective in protecting civilians from sexual exploitation and violence.
In order to increase the representation, the Indonesian government has to be cooperative in creating a safe environment for the female admissions to the Indonesian Armed Forces.
One of the best ways to do that is to erase virginity test from the part of admission process and use an applicant’s ability to complete the test as the sole indicator. Such transformation of procedure will increase more female enthusiasm in joining the Armed Forces, as well as increase more number of female representation in the UN Peacekeeping Corps.
Agnes Kusuma Wardani
19 years old, 3rd year student of the Universitas Indonesia, currently active in Scientific Research Institute, Faculty of Law, Universitas Indonesia (LK2 FHUI).
Natasya Fila Rais
19 years old, 3rd year student of Universitas Indonesia, currently active as the Research and Development Division staff at both Foreign Policy Community Indonesia chapter Universitas Indonesia (FPCI UI) and Indonesian Student Association for International Studies (ISAFIS) doing research on foreign policy and human rights.
This essay has been edited and modified for digital publication and reading easiness reasons.
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