Womenomics: Empowering Women for Economic Growth and Equality
By Mabel Parengkuan, Mabel and Associates law firm, and the Foundation for Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST)

Womenomics: Empowering Women for Economic Growth and Equality

September 2023

By Mabel Parengkuan, Mabel and Associates law firm, and the Foundation for Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST)

In recent decades, the global workforce has witnessed a profound transformation. Women are increasingly breaking through traditional barriers, not only entering but excelling in various industries and professions. This societal shift is partly due to changing attitudes and increased access to education, which have empowered women to pursue careers outside of traditional roles. This shift is giving rise to a concept known as "Womenomics," a term coined by economist and former Goldman Sachs executive director, Kathy Matsui.

Investing in the education and skills development of women is a cornerstone of Womenomics as it encompasses a wide range of strategies and initiatives aimed at removing barriers that hinder any woman's full participation in the workforce. These barriers can be systemic, cultural, or personal.

Womenomics is a strategic approach to harnessing the untapped potential of women in the workforce, driving economic growth, and achieving gender equality. Ignoring their potential or relegating women to secondary roles is not just a matter of social injustice, but also a considerable economic oversight. Womenomics recognizes this fact and seeks to leverage the talents and abilities of women to fuel economic growth.

One of the key aspects of Womenomics in Indonesia is the increasing participation of women in the labor market. The concept of "Womenomics" offers a promising path to achieve the full potential of working Indonesian women to drive gender equality, economic growth and social development. A study by McKinsey & Company estimated that advancing gender equality in Indonesia could add up to $135 billion to the country's GDP by 2030. This significant economic potential should not be ignored. When women have equal access to employment opportunities and are empowered to climb the career ladder, the entire nation reaps the rewards.

Women in Indonesia are increasingly well-educated, often outperforming their male counterparts academically, yet in 2020, they earned approximately 20% less than men on average. Their participation in the labor force also remains lower than men. Encouraging more women to enter and remain in the workforce will help the nation access a skilled and diverse labor pool, essential in today's competitive global economy.

Encouraging more women to take leadership roles in businesses and politics can set an example for the entire nation. Allowing Indonesian women to aspire to and attain leadership positions is not just a matter of fairness, but also vital for diversifying perspectives and driving innovation. Providing financial and mentoring support to women entrepreneurs fosters economic growth, innovation, and is a powerful driver of economic growth. Providing them with access to capital, networks, and mentorship can catalyze their success. More microfinance programs and training initiatives need to be established to enhance women's entrepreneurial skills, enabling them to contribute to the country's economic growth while also achieving financial independence.

Gender diversity in the workplace is a catalyst for innovation and creativity. Diverse teams bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, leading to more innovative solutions and products. More Indonesian women pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can bring profound benefits for the nation’s technological advancement.

Businesses play a pivotal role in the Womenomics movement. With the growing recognition of the economic benefits of gender diversity, more governments, businesses, and organizations are looking to embrace policies and practices that promote gender equality. More companies in Indonesia need to adopt strategies to promote gender diversity and inclusion in their organizations, and be more transparent about their gender diversity statistics, which not only holds them accountable and promotes investment, but also encourages others to follow suit.

Empowering women economically also contributes to reducing income inequality. When Indonesian women have access to higher-paying jobs and equal opportunities, they contribute more substantially to household incomes, reducing the income gap between genders and promoting social equity.

Womenomics is a path to harnessing Indonesia's untapped economic potential. But to realize that potential requires collaboration between the Government, businesses, civil society, and individuals. The Government in particular must enact policies that promote gender equality, businesses must create more inclusive workplaces, and individuals must challenge stereotypes and biases in their everyday interactions.

Creating a workplace culture that values diversity, offers equal pay for equal work, and promotes work-life balance is crucial. A national focus on Womenomics will also lead to improved work-life balance for both men and women. Policies supporting flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and affordable childcare will benefit all workers, allowing them to balance their professional and personal lives more effectively.

Womenomics in Indonesia represents a powerful force for economic growth and social progress. As more women enter the workforce, pursue education and entrepreneurship, and assume leadership roles, the country stands to benefit from their talents and contributions. Indonesia's commitment to gender equality and empowerment is not only a matter of social justice, but also a strategic move to strengthen its position in the global economy.

Societal norms are evolving, and as more women in Indonesia enter the workforce, contributing to the country's economic development, it's time for the country to recognize the power of Womenomics and invest in a future where every Indonesian woman can thrive, contribute, and lead. In doing so, the nation will undoubtedly unlock its full potential and position itself as a global leader in both gender equality and economic prosperity.

Womenomics is not just a catchphrase; it's a call to action. And it’s not just about empowering women; it's about empowering economies and societies as a whole. It's a reminder that women are an essential part of the economic equation and that their contributions are vital to achieving a more prosperous and equitable world. By recognizing and harnessing the talents and abilities of women, Indonesia can drive economic growth, foster innovation, and move closer to achieving gender equality on a national scale.