Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the Launch of Women for the World, Jakarta

Thanks to Women for the World for hosting this event.  You may be wondering why a man is on this panel.

She used to always remind us that investing in women is the single best development  investment we can make because women are more likely to reinvest development gains back into their families and communities making change truly transformational.

Women have tons of great ideas for businesses, and are willing to put in the effort to make them successful.  Just look at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh for example.

But it’s usually the financial barriers that make it challenging for them to start up a business.  (The UN published a study indicating that women tend to have less access to formal financial institutions and saving mechanisms.

Worldwide, 55 per cent of men report having an account at a formal financial institution, while only 47 per cent of women of have similar access.   In Indonesia, there used to be a regulation that required a man sign for a loan for his wife.

We’ve seen in many cases where women’s collectives and cooperatives, women’s chambers of commerce and business organizations have banded together to help women advocate for their economic rights.

Access to financing is important, but there are other challenges we are partnering with Indonesia to help solve:

  1. Access to Education:  we make sure women get an equal or disproportionate share of our scholarships and exchange opportunities.
  2. Related to that is assuring women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) overseas training/research opportunities, which are sometimes diminished by family pressures.

    USAID conducts community outreach to highlight the importance of study abroad to parents and communities and whenever possible, female scientists are specifically targeted for invitations to workshops and conferences.

    USAID and our Public Affairs sections also work with the private sector to promote prizes in these areas that have been proven to appeal to women:  Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, Coding and Girls.

  3. Access to health care of course is critical, particularly to reduce the relatively high rates of infant and maternal mortality here.

    We have numerous health programs in that area but one policy reform is to eliminate practices or policies that require a husband‘s consent before a woman receives emergency obstetrical care.

    We also are working with Indonesia to reduce gender-­based violence, particularly in Papua, by targeting community-based referral, reporting and survivor support services.

    Supporting NGOS who provide victim support, holding events to elevate the awareness of GBV and promote discussion among police and other key actors such as the Suffering in Silence program we hosted at @america.

  4. Legal Rights:  AID  supports two Criminal Law Clinics focused on women’s issues, one at Sriwijaya University in Palembang and at the Criminal Law Clinic at Hasanuddin University (UNHAS).
  5. We work a lot with the private sector and NGOs here to help establish an ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship.  A few examples:

    Mentors and networking: Indonesian women have identified this as a need and we responded. We hold a quarterly Women’s Networking and Mentoring event–Allows women to meet others from across all disciplines, often sparks collaboration and new ideas. Also each women brings mentee which gives more junior women a chance to pitch ideas and thinking to more senior ones.

    Financing:‎. Through GEPI we provide technical and financial support to entrepreneurship. In turn this helped a group of Indonesian women create Angin, an angel investing network for Indonesian women by Indonesian women.

    Removing barriers: we have also convened key players and they developed a action roadmap to determine how to remove barriers to promote a better entrepreneurship ecostructure for both men and women.

    Web:  we had a program to link webdesigners with women entrepreneurs to help create websites for them to promote their products

  6. Showcasing Success: through our Women of Change program we regularly highlight the exceptional work of innovative Indonesian women in many ways. They inspire us all and show just how much has and will be done by women in Indonesia!


As prepared.