Gender-based Violence at Work, An Organizational Prevention Strategy

A growing body of evidence shows that 1 in 3 women worldwide experienced some types of Gender based Violence thru ought their family, social and work life.

What is gender-based violence and what makes it different from other type of violence? Gender-based violence is identified as violence that is directed against an individual or a group of individuals on the basis of their gender or sex. It is stemmed from gendered social injustice and inequality, deeply rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and perceived powerlessness of a marginal group: in general women and girls.

Some gender-based violence contributing factors include:

  • cultural factors such as gender stereotypes and prejudice, normative expectations of femininity and masculinity or family-based gender roles, and a general acceptance of violence as part of the socio-cultural contract when gender stereotypes are not adhered;
  • socio-economic factors such as limited access to education and training, lack of economic resources, resources scarcity and poverty; and
  • socio-political factors such as lack of representation of women in politics and leadership. 

Gender based violence can take on multiple forms from its most common form, physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner, to bullying in online space. Although there was no rigid classification, gender-based violence could be grouped in 6 (six) core types:

  • physical violence;
  • verbal violence;
  • psychological violence;
  • harassment, sexual harassment and sexual violence;
  • socio-economic violence; and
  • domestic violence.

In many industries, especially low-wage sectors, harassment and other forms of gender-based violence are ingrained in the workplace. Masculine culture and norms ingrain in many industries, even in feminine industry such as garment, normalized violence over time. As such, mistreatment and violence are considered part of the job instead of a violation of worker and human rights.[1] In Indonesia, girls and women workers working in farm and factory, for instance, frequently face unwanted sexual advances, harassment, bullying, stalking and intimidation, physical abuse, and verbal abuse from their work colleagues, supervisors or managers. Women retail workers often experience rude gesture, harassment, verbal abuse and threat from the customers. Gender based violence is so prevalent or perceived as normal, even office workers with high educational background could not escape gendered harassment, intimidation and discrimination at work.

Understanding the pervasiveness of gender-based violence committed in the world of work is
tremendously difficult
, because only a small percentage of survivors report the abuse. Many survivors of workplace violence do not come forward because they do not think they would be believed; fear they will lose their jobs or otherwise face retaliation and stigma for speaking out. Complaint rates may be even lower in certain industries due to informal work arrangement, unclear and weak management structure and precarious jobs. Language barriers also likely influence underreported violence incidents.

Further, in a highly gendered society country such as Indonesia, all spectrum of gender-based violence has yet acknowledged by State Law and Regulations. Gender based bullying and harassment, for instance, are not stipulated in the Criminal Code. Adding to that, the perception of lack of awareness of law enforcement on the issue and their unconscious bias, also a complex judicial system deters survivors of violence from reporting such case to the authority. What is more, the stigma plastered by the society on survivors of gender-based violence as the other half of the responsible parties.

Ignoring violence against women and girls in the workplace will negatively impacting workers, companies and businesses. Studies suggest that gender-based violence taking a toll on workers physical and mental health, and also company productivity overall. It likely increases OSH related and legal expenses. It creates high turnover of skilled or trained workers. Moreover, it is harmful to the company image and reputation.  

Although tolerating gender-based violence at the workplace is perilous, many workplaces have yet had adequate preventive or redressal strategy to tackle gender-based violence. Even when some kind of strategy exist, it might not be inclusively established (lack of representation of women), and workers and managers are not aware of the strategy, or all the same of the issue itself. Perhaps, the lack of scientific proved strategies and practical guidelines on preventing gender-based violence has an effect on scarcity of such strategy. 

For workplaces that have developed a prevention of gender-based violence strategy, it is generally consists of two means: providing workers with a safe place to work and plan to manage disruption. However, this form of strategy undermines the fact that gender-based violence-based violence are stemmed from a bigger pool of issues such as toxic masculine corporate cultures, discriminatory cultural beliefs and gendered social norms. Also, it does not holistically capture a complete picture of the issue: spectrum of violence manifestation, and structured redressal system that offer survivor some kind of remedies.

As workplace gender-based violence fundamentally rooted from biased cultural beliefs and perceived uneven power relations that are infused in the organization culture and norms, a sound presentation strategy should include ways and means to alter toxic gendered organizational culture by firstly acknowledging and defining the problem of workplace violence. This will lead an organization to register the manifestation of gender-based violence in the workplace which is then funnelled to the risk assessment and analysis process.

Another key component of a sound strategy may perhaps an inclusively established zero-tolerance policy, signed and endorsed by the Top Management of the organization. A policy does not include specific processes or require specific and predetermined consequences, but simply stating the organizational motive and intention to denounce violence at work, that any types of gender-based violence at work are not acceptable.  

A consistent enforcement of the policy is as important as establishing the policy itself. Workers would look to management to see whether a policy is integral to the organization, whether it is a consistently implemented set of rules, or whether it is only just another piece of paper. Thus, it is essential to translate the policy into reliable procedures thatset out risk mitigation measures and provide clear processes linked to company recruitment, performance assessment and disciplinary procedures. The procedures shall also include responsible processes operating team may consist of internal experts such as HR, medical officer, and legal.

Further, the procedure shall include post incident response, grievance mechanisms and investigations procedures. Post-incident response processes will help to heal all affected by a violent incident at work, including co-workers and family. Whist, grievance and investigation mechanism enable gender-based violence related complaints and concerns to be treated in a structured, impartial and confidential manners. Providing effective channels for reporting grievances that include an anonymous option can help to encourage workers to report.

Lastly, a prevention strategy on gender-based violence is of little use if the organization do not increase issue awareness and communicate it to its workers and managers. In many situations, workplace actions and decisions depend as much on managers and workers behaviour as on strategy design and processes entail. The first step of changing “bad” behaviour shall start from providing expert insight of why the behaviour concerned is “bad”. Thus, organization may provide regular training to the workers and managers on introduction of gender-based violence, zero-tolerance policy, the importance of a violence free workplace, and the unacceptability of issue and how to get assistance.


[1] On 21 June 2019, the International Labour Organization introduced Convention No. 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence, supplemented with Recommendation No. 2016 of violence and harassment. Indonesia, like many of the ILO member countries, has yet ratified this Convention.

Amendment of Indonesia National Social Security System Act (Act No. 40/2004 and Act No. 11/2020)

The Job Creation Act No. 11 of 2020 adds a new national social security program in the Employment Social Security (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan), namely Job Loss Security (Jaminan Kehilangan Pekerjaan/JKP), which serves as a ‘replacement’ for a portion of the severance pay – the Act has removed 14 severance pay-related Articles stipulated by Labour Act No. 13 of 2003 which perceived as reducing employee’s legal benefits of up to two times the amount of severance payment for certain termination rationales.

The new program ensures that employee who lost their job due to redundancy (termination of employment) can get the JKP benefits in the form of cash, access to labour market information and job training. The benefits given shall not be more than 6 (six) month wage.

Differ from the other five programs of the employment social securities which source of funding comes from participant and/or employer contributions, the new job loss security program is going to be funded by:

a) government initial capital;

b) re-composition of social security programs; and / or

c) BPJS Ketenagakerjaan operational funds.

According to Article 83 No. 3 Act No. 11 of 2020, the Government pledges at the very minimum 6 (six) trillion Rupiahs as the initial capital for the said program that is originating from the State Revenue and Expenditure Budget.

When this post is published, the Government is in the process of establishing the required Government Regulations that would govern specifics, related processes and other requirements as stipulated by Act No. 11 of 2020.  

Amendment of Indonesia Labour Act (Act No. 13/2003 and Chapter IV Act No.11/2020)

Article 80 (a) Part One Chapter IV of Job Creation Act No. 11 of 2020 (Omnibus Law) indicates it does not repeal the Labour Act No. 13 of 2003, but instead it changes, removes or sets new provisions stipulated in the Labout Act No. 13 of 2003. This means that those provisions of Labour Act 13 of 2002 that were not amended, removed or reset (and its derivative regulations) are still applicable as long as they are not in conflict with provisions stipulated in the Omnibus Law.

Thus, we synchronized, and compiled both Labour Act Part One Chapter IV of Job Creation Act No. 11 of 2020 (Omnibus Law) and Labour Act No. 13 of 2003 in order to provide an alternative update view of the Act/s. We also include in the Compilation Labour Act document below, information about its derivative regulations and the relations between relevant Constitutional Court Decision and the amendment of the Labour Act.

Below we enclosed the Bahasa Indonesia and English translation of the Amendment.

2021 City/District Minimum Wage of Jawa Island

Jawa is an island of Indonesia and the site of its capital city, DKI Jakarta. Jawa consists of two Special Regions (DKI Jakarta and DIY) and four Provinces (Jawa Barat, Banten, Jawa Tengah and Jawa Timur).

Since the Dutch colonialism, Jawa is the centre of economic life in Indonesia. The bulk of the top country’s industry sectors and manufacturing mainly concentrate in the Island with approximately 60% of manufacturing operates in the Western Part of the Island (DKI Jakarta, Banten and Jawa Barat).

The heavy concentration of country’s industry sectors and manufacturing is shown by its City/District minimum wage trend. In 2021, at least 7 municipalities in the Province of Jawa Barat (West Java), five (5) municipalities in the Province of Banten and taken into account the Provincial Minimum Wage of the Special Region of Jakarta; all have minimum wage more than 4million Rupiahs per month (equivalent to USD 283). In comparison, only the Province of Jawa Timur (East Java) has 5 municipalities with minimum wage more than 4million Rupiahs. All other Province and Special Region: the Province of Jawa Tengah (Central Java) and Special Region of Yogyakarta (DIY), have no municipality with minimum wage reaching 4million Rupiahs.  

2021 Provincial Minimum Wage

All the provinces and special regions in the Indonesia have issued the 2021 provincial minimum wage on 1 November 2020 (see below).

Whilst, the Minister of Manpower Circular Letter issued on 26 October 2020 addressed to all of the Governors in Indonesia direct them to maintain the same amount of figure as per the 2020 provincial minimum wage; five provinces and special regions decide differently with with the Circular Letter directive. This likely a micro reflection of the Central Government policy efficacy at the regional level and mismatch of labor politics between Central and Regional Governments.