Dyah Ayu Kartika addresses the impact of anti-gender movements on gender-related issues and policies in Indonesia and their broader implications for the country's democracy.
The fight for gender equality in Indonesia achieved substantial gains after the country’s transition to democracy began in 1998. However, such gains have prompted a backlash from conservative movements, and in particular from Islamist groups. Such groups oppose feminist values and agendas, and instead promote religiously conservative interpretations of gender roles. Islamist groups have mobilised against a range of gender-progressive laws and regulations, including a bill proposed in 2022 on sexual violence. Importantly, women-led alliances of conservative Islamist groups are at the forefront of opposition to feminist-inspired legal change. The backlash against gender activism is not isolated to Indonesia. Scholars argue ‘anti-gender movements’ have been growing all around the world. Anti-gender movements oppose emancipatory claims on gender, sex, and sexuality and cast such claims as a moral threats. The movements have recently gained prominence as part of a broader rise in right-wing populism and democratic backsliding around the globe.
Against this backdrop, my doctoral research project asks: What explains the recent rise in women-led anti-gender activism in Indonesia, and what has been its impact on women’s rights in the country? How similar and how different is this form of anti-gender activism to what analysts observe in other parts of the world, and in particular other Muslim-majority countries? To answer these questions, the project will use counter-movement theory as the overarching analytical framework, emphasising the dynamic interplay between social movements, counter-movements, and the state. In doing so, this project will offer the first systematic investigation into the growing visibility of anti-gender movements in Indonesia, with a view to reflecting on how such movements contribute to, or are impacted by, broader problems of democratic regression.
Dyah Ayu Kartika (Kathy) commenced her PhD studies in February 2023. She previously worked as a research analyst in a Jakarta-based think tank, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC). She was also part of the Indonesian fellows for New Mandala, an academic blog hosted by The Australian National University, to provide analysis on gender issues during Indonesia’s 2019 election.