With signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 15 August 2005 in Helsinki, Aceh has a chance to create a fair, just and equal society after decades-long conflict. Parties to this agreement - the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement - have been implementing its clauses with commitment, receiving praise from international community.
As men have been visible in the peace process, the Crisis Management Initiative CMI was interested in establishing the status of women’s involvement and their participation in developing the society and its governance. CMI, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women UNIFEM and the Center for Community Development and Education CCDE interviewed representatives of the Indonesian government, GAM leadership, Aceh Monitoring Mission, international organisations and, most importantly, Acehnese women and women’s organisations to establish the status of women’s involvement in the peace process so far, and to provide recommendations to the Peace Agreement parties on enhancing women’s participation in decision-making processes.
The report found that women’s participation in the peace process has thus far been limited. It was underlined that strengthening women’s involvement and listening to their views and opinions will vastly benefit Aceh. First of all, it will strengthen the process of building a society that can rely on peace. The “peace enhancing” potential of women, seen to be the most neutral party to the conflict, has not yet been utilised. Involving women will strengthen the economy, by benefiting from the capacity and skills of more than half of the population. Involving women is necessary if the process is to be democratic – especially considering that women make up the majority of the Acehnese people.
Both GAM and the government representatives confirmed in interviews that they wish that women were involved in implementing the Peace Agreement. The report recommends that the Peace Agreement parties should establish regular contacts with women’s organisations. They should also make special efforts and provide sufficient resources to facilitate women’s participation in the peace process more effectively. The parties need to make it publicly evident and that they want women to be involved. GAM and the government should also request that their external partners pay attention to women’s participation.