Gender-based Discrimination at the Workplace

Gender discrimination at the workplace limits people’s full potential and reduce workplace productivity. Global data shows that gender based discrimination has caused 50% of the population to be unable to realize their true potential.


The right to work is one of the basic human rights protected under International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which has been ratified by the Government of Indonesia through Law no. 11 of the year 2005 on the Ratification of ICESCR. The Covenant also prohibits any discrimination in access to and maintenance of employment on various grounds, including sex, health status (including HIV/AIDS), and sexual orientation.1 These principles are also reiterated in the ILO Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), which Indonesia is also a party member. Furthermore, non-discriminatory principle is also recognized under the national law on Manpower No. 13 of the year 2003. Despite of the relatively strong legal frameworks against discrimination in the workplace setting, gender-based discrimination against women in all diversity remained a concern in all levels of employment from job application, recruitment process, to advancement of career progress.

Globally, women are more likely to be unemployed than men, including in Indonesia. The Central Statistical Bureau (BPS) revealed that only 53.13% of Indonesian women participated in the labor force, compared to men at 82.31%.2 Indonesian women are paid 23% less than men for equal work.3 Furthermore, Indonesian women only take up a quarter of high paying managerial and supervisory occupations.4 There are several factors attributable to women’s employment opportunity and quality of their jobs. One of these factors is unfair treatment at the workplace, which includes abuse, harassment, and discrimination. According to a survey in 2017 by Perempuan Mahardhika, 56.5% of 773 women workers in the garment sector have experienced sexual harassment at the workplace.5 Women with intersectional vulnerabilities are known to experience greater workplace discrimination. Worldwide, women with disabilities have 19.6% of employment rate, compared with 52.8% of men with disabilities and 29.9% of women without disabilities.6 Women with disabilities are also more prone to experience sexual harassment at the workplace. A study in Australia suggests that women with disabilities are  44% more likely than those without, to experience sexual harassment at the workplace.7 Furthermore, data from UNAIDS in 2021 showed that sexual and gender diverse women experienced greater incidence of violence and discrimination at workplace.8

Gender discrimination at the workplace limits people’s full potential and reduce workplace productivity. Global data shows that gender-based discrimination has caused 50% of the population to be unable to realize their true potential.9 The ILO estimates that if participation gap between women and men in Indonesia can be closed by 25% by 2025, it could add Rp2.9 quadrillion or USD 216.2 billion to the country’s economy.10 Furthermore, workplace discrimination and exclusion of certain groups hurts the economy. A study from the Williams Institute (UCLA School of Law) in 2017 showed that exclusion of sexual and gender diverse people from the workplace in Indonesia resulted in an economic loss of at least USD 862 million to USD 12 billion.11 For this reason, it is important to tackle gender-based discrimination at the workplace and to ensure the equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of their gender, to access and keep employment as committed by the government.

UNAIDS and ILO are intending to hold a webinar with the theme of “Gender-based Discrimination at the Workplace”. This webinar is supported by the United Nations COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi Partner Trust Fund (UN COVID-19 MPTF). This project aims for the recovery and improvement of economy and livelihood of vulnerable groups of people who are most affected by the pandemic, including women, youth, refugees, migrant workers, people living with HIV, key populations most vulnerable to HIV and people living in disadvantaged regions.


The objective of this webinar are the following:
  1. Promoting the elimination of gender-based discrimination at the workplace to the public and key stakeholders;
  2. Increasing support from the public and key stakeholders on the elimination of gender-based discrimination at the workplace.