Indonesian Culture Causes many Gender Pay Gaps

By Ira Rachmawati, gender specialist at trade union confederation KSBSI

The cultural assumption that men are the breadwinners, while women take care of the household, is still very strong in Indonesian society. As a result, when women are working, their position is assumed to be merely that of an ‘additional’ breadwinner. This causes a gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is the gap between the salary received by men and women.  he man’s wage is higher than woman's wage because he is expected to take care of his wife and children. While female workers, even when married, are also legally still considered single. The International Labor Organization (ILO) stated that in 2012 the gender pay gap in Indonesia was still approx. 19%.

In 2012 the Indonesian work force numbered 112 million of which 43 million women (Central Bureau of Statistics, BPS). In Indonesia, according to the ILO, women represent approx. 38% of the work forced in the civil service. More than a third of the women do domestic work, such as taking care of the household and nurturing. These jobs are paid relatively low and therefore also women overall tend to earn less than men.

Focus on Collective Agreements

The gender pay gap project in Indonesia needs to address several issues. Firstly, it should focus on Collective Agreements. In the manufacturing sector our fact finding from the CBAs makes an inventory of different allowances and secondary facilities such as housing allowance and health insurance. This is an issue that Wageindicator can tackle based on the CBAs in the database. Even though most of the CBAs do not show many differences between men and women, there are still some that are different and discriminate women. For example the CBA of the Fish Marine Company, which is already uploaded to www.gajimu.com, states that the housing allowance for men is IDR 20,000, for women IDR 10,000 and for widows IDR 15,000. This is the kind of difference that we will try to find in other CBA's and address through the gender pay gap campaign.

Focus on Income Tax

Another issue is the difference in income tax. We will address this issue specifically for white-collar work because the income tax is only applied for the workers that earn above the Minimum Wage. This issue will be combined with other activities conducted by KSBSI. Based on Law 36 (2008) there is a different income tax for married men and women. The income tax for married men is lower than for married women, because of the underlying assumption that the man is the breadwinner of the family. So for this issue we'd like to raise awareness and to find out more about what this difference means in real life, based on the data.

Focus on Informal Sector

Another issue we want to raise is the gender pay gap in the informal sector such as domestic workers (house maid, driver, gardener, cleaning service, nanny).  There is a difference in the income for women and men in domestic workers sector, again with the assumption that the man is the breadwinner. Also, a lot of the work in the informal sector is typical for men or women. For example drivers are mostly men and nannies are mostly women. The campaign will focus on equal pay for equal work.

Comparison of Sector Differences

The last issue to mention in this short review of all the issues we want to address are the wage differences between different sectors (e.g. administrators in mining  get higher wages than administrators in the garment sector). This has become an option which we can now show, based on the data. In the mining sector, where the majority are men, the wages are higher than for office workers, where the majority is female. These gender pay gaps between the sectors can now also be demonstrated, using the data of WageIndicator. 


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