Banda Aceh, 19 September 2006 – The Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias (BRR) today officially launched its policy and strategy paper on “Promoting Gender Equality in the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Process.” The paper outlines BRR’s commitment to gender equality and proposes strategic-entry points, at different levels of the recovery program, to support the realization of this commitment. While all agencies involved in the rehabilitation and reconstruction are cognate of the importance of gender issues, BRR’s initiative to launch a specific policy and strategy at a sectoral level is considered prudent and innovative.

“Addressing gender concerns will help us design our program with a better understanding of the different needs, concerns, roles and responsibilities of women and men while achieving BRR’s goal to build back better. Today we write the history that student will read tomorrow and I hope the story of Aceh and Nias continues to be one where women are leaders and decision makers of consequence,” said the director of BRR, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, at the launching.

Moreover, he encouraged the staff of the BRR to work together to incorporate the Gender Policies and Strategies into their everyday tasks. “As deputies, regional heads, directors, managers, staff, and advisors, our job is to make sure that the work we do addresses the needs of all the population equally and that their rights are protected. We are all accountable.” He expressed his hope also that the paper would provide a framework for international agencies operating in Aceh and Nias to further enhance their efforts in working towards greater gender equality.

The BRR gender policy and strategy paper has been developed in recognition of the need to identify effective ways to integrate gender-responsive actions in the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction. In addition, it has been developed to support the local and national government’s efforts to ensure gender equality when implementing development goals. The policies and strategies proposed encompass all sectors, providing a gender-mainstream perspective in the formulation of sectoral policies, planning, and implementation within areas like housing, infrastructure, economic development, health, education and social, religion and institutional development.

“The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) congratulated BRR on the launch of its Gender Policy and commended the leadership of BRR for its continued commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Aceh and Nias. The BRR Gender Policy is a significant milestone for mainstreaming gender equality perspectives and women’s concerns into its goal of Building Back Better, and provides the framework for advancing the women’s agenda in Aceh and Nias. UNIFEM looks forward to continued collaboration with BRR in ensuring that reconstruction programming and resources ensure de facto equality between men and women and real empowerment for women,” said Dr. Jean D’Cunha, Regional Programme Director of UNIFEM East and Southeast Asia Regional Office.

The policy paper presents an innovative list of specific strategic interventions within different sectors. In education and economic development, for example, equal distribution of economic resources, vocational training and scholarships are emphasized while, in the health sector, post-natal care and skilled birth attendances at village and sub-district levels are prioritized. A range of policies are proposed to support the creation of a pool of women leaders in fields like religion, technology, media and enterprise development through the introduction of tailored training, language training, exposure visits and follow up forums. The paper also identifies a number of legal areas where gender issues must be supported and facilitated including land ownership and domestic violence.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto asked all stakeholders to take the time and make the effort to read the paper carefully and to integrate the cited strategic interventions into all programs. “Across all sectors, BRR’s division for Women Empowerment will coordinate, support and supervise the implementation of the policies and strategies formulated in this paper,” remarked Kuntoro.

“This is a work in progress and the most important aspect will be the formulation of an implementation framework, action plan, practical checklists and target indicators. As a first step, all BRR staff will receive incentive-tailored training followed by the introduction of support mechanisms to enable the implementation of prioritized sectoral strategies. We hope by the end of this year we will be able to finalize the target indicators, develop action plans, train staff and report on pervious lessons learned and best practices in the distribution of resources among women and men across all sectors. This preparation phase will lead to the implementation of this policy and strategy paper in 2007,“ explained the Deputy of Health, Education and Women Empowerment, Cut Cayarani, who also spoke at the launching.

During the development of the policy and strategy paper, extensive consultation was conducted outside of BRR which resulted in the incorporation of valuable inputs from women organizations, local government and local and international and other stakeholders.

“I would like to thank especially those Acehnese women who contributed to the development of this policy and strategy paper. It is important to remember that this step is only the beginning and that the implementation of these policies will be challenging. I value your continuing support to ensure the success of these important policies and strategies,” said Kuntoro.

Note:The Indonesian Government has ratified a number of international conventions, including: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the International Convention of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD); the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

BRR Policy and Strategy Paper to Promote Gender Equality

Note: the content of this posting was copied from BRR’ press release at the launching of BRR’s Gender Strategy