Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, announced on Sunday that Australia would help about three million Indonesian women with jobs, family planning and increased protection against domestic violence as part of a $60 million aid program.
“Indonesia continues to make strong progress in women’s rights, education and jobs. Nearly half of all school students are girls, and more women than men are enrolled in universities,” said the minister, who is on his first official visit to Indonesia.
“But there’s more to be done, especially in rural and eastern Indonesia where female literacy, income and reproductive health are poor.”
He cited the stark statistical contrast between Indonesia and Australia: “An Indonesian woman is 30 times more likely to die in childbirth than her Australian counterpart.”
He continued, “Many women continue to have little or no say in communal decision-making — a result of poor economic and social standing. That’s why we’re reaching out to three million rural women — helping them with jobs, anti-violence programs and choices on whether, when and how many children to have. And this program has strong Indonesian support — another sign of Australia’s close relationship with our northern neighbor.”
According to a statement from AusAID, the program will be delivered, beginning later this year, “by AusAID through Indonesian providers and in-country non-government organizations.”
Over the next four years, the initiative will help poor women find local jobs and fight discrimination at work, fund social programs such as health care and schooling for children, and provide contraception and family planning advice, among other objectives.
Carr also announced a $215,000 grant to support the Unesco program in Borobudur, Indonesia.
The Borobudur temple site, a Unesco World Heritage site, is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations, “but few tourist dollars flow to local families.” Carr said. “The benefits from Borobudur’s popularity should reach the 55,000 local villagers who call this area home.”
The Australian program mainly seeks “to boost local jobs and tourism income through training for local workers on heritage tourism and quality handicraft production,” according to a press release.
“There is tremendous potential to help local communities by bringing their handicrafts, such as textiles, ceramics and wood carving to international tourists,” Carr said. “The hundreds of thousands of Australians who visit Borobudur would be pleased to know they are also supporting the local community.”