Institute for Religion, Politics & Society

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Are Minangkabau women really not into politics?

Despite the efforts of outgoing legislators last year(link is external), Indonesians will soon have the opportunity to exercise their electoral rights again when they vote for local leaders in 266 provinces, districts and cities on 9 December. Unfortunately, voters in West Sumatra will find that their choices are limited almost exclusively to men.

In a recent visit to this devoutly Muslim province I was struck by the many huge posters of candidates erected on the roadside. These were not limited to the capital, Padang, but stretched from the coastal area of Pariaman up into the highlands. They were all men, with most prominently displaying symbols of Islamic identity like the peci, or black cap. Many displayed other signifiers of masculinity, such as a bushy moustache or the large gemstone rings (batu akik) that have recently become a national trend.

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