Inequality is one of the biggest obstacles in the realization of human rights. The impacts of inequality to the society can be very damaging as it creates poverty, marginalization and, eventually, conflicts. A World Social Science Report by UNESCO on Challenging Inequalities identifies seven dimensions of inequality namely, economic inequality, social inequality, cultural inequality, political inequality, environmental inequality, spatial inequality and knowledge inequality.[1] Each of those dimensions is intersecting, as one dimension of inequality could create another form of inequality, for instance, poor communities, who are already become victims of economic inequality, may face bigger obstacles, compared to those who are not poor, in accessing quality education. When a community is deprived from access to education and knowledge, it would affect their capability to make informed decisions and to fully participate politically in any policy-making processes which will affect their lives. From that example, we can see how one dimension of inequality namely, economic inequality, creates knowledge inequality and, eventually, political inequality.

Human Rights Principles to Tackle Inequalities

Given the fact that inequality increases deprivation of human rights, the international human rights system has strived to tackle inequality through the embodiment and reiteration of the twin principles of equality and non-discrimination in almost all human rights instrument.

While, the Office of the UN Human Rights Committee provides a more elaborated definition of equality and non-discrimination principles as follows:

The right to equality and the principle of non-discrimination are among the most fundamental elements of international human rights law. The right to equality guarantees, first and foremost, that all persons are equal before the law, which means that the law shall be formulated in general terms applicable to every individual and shall be enforced in an equal manner. Secondly, all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law against arbitrary and discriminatory treatment by private actors. In this regard, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability and health status, including HIV/AIDS, age, sexual orientation or other status.[2]

The protection of everyone against inequality and discrimination is paramount for every State in order to implement its human rights obligations. To this end, governments shall not only refrain themselves from committing any discriminatory acts, but they must also protect everyone in their jurisdictions from any forms of discrimination committed by private actors. This can be done by, among others, adopting anti discrimination law and creating policies and programs to combat discriminatory practices and traditions in the society and ensuring that everyone has equal accesses and opportunities to the enjoyment of human rights and development.

[1] UNESCO, World Social Science Report, Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World, 2016, page: 22.

[2] OHCHR, Principles and Guidelines for A Human Rights Approach To Poverty Reduction Strategies, 2012, page: 9. Available at:

Similar to many countries in the world, Indonesia is also struggling with inequality. A report by the World Bank in 2015 finds that inequality in Indonesia is moving faster compared to its neighbors in the East Asian region, with the richest group in Indonesia has 50 percent of the nation’s income.[1] While, Oxfam finds that 4 richest men in Indonesia owns more wealth than the poorest 100 million people.[2] Oxfam also finds that some of the problems that perpetuate inequality in Indonesia are  as follows:[3]

  • low wages and insecure work for those at the bottom further compounds inequality;
  • unequal access between rural and urban areas to infrastructure such as electricity and good quality roads compounds spatial inequalities;
  • A concentration of land ownership in the hands of big corporations and wealthy individuals means that the benefits of land ownership accrue to those at the top, at the expense of the rest of society.

As a result of the staggering inequality, many Indonesians are deprived from various access to public services, including healthcare, education, as well as other enjoyment of human rights, such as an adequate standard of living, access to decent work and justice institutions. Furthermore, there is a strong indication that in areas where economic inequality is high, violent crime is higher . Also, districts with higher level of inequality have rates of conflict 1.6 times higher than districts with lower levels of inequality.[4]

With regard to Goal 10 on reducing inequality within the country, the Government of Indonesia (GoI) has tried to harmonize its national development priorities with the global targets set out in the Goal 10 as we can see in the following matrix.

Global Target National Target National Indicator
10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average. 1. Realization of a just and equitable development.

2. Improved living standard among the bottom 40% of the population.

a.   Gini coefficient of 3,6 by 2019;

b.   Decreased percentage of the population living in poverty to 7-8% by 2019;

c.   Decreased number of alleviated underdeveloped areas to 42 areas and 80 alleviated regencies by 2019;

d.   Increased average of economic growth to 7,24% in underdeveloped areas, by 2019;

e.   Decreased percentage of poor population in underdeveloped areas to 14% by 2019;

f.    100% access to nutritious food by 2019.

10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. NA NA
10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard. 1. Strengthened a conducive climate for civilized democracy, preservation of peace and strengthened the spirit of unity and oneness. a.   Increased score of security index;

b.   Increased score of tolerance index;

c.   Decreased number of social conflicts annually;

d.   Increased score of mutual cooperation index;

e.   Increased score of Indonesian democracy index;

f.    Increased score of Civil Liberty Index;

g.   Increased score of political rights Index;

h.   Increased score of democratic institutions index;

i.    Decreased number of conflicts on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, race and inter-group relations.

10.4 Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality. 1. Improved implementation of the National Social Security System (SJSN). a.   Increased number of the SJSN membership to 62,4 million members by 2019.

b.   Formal workers…

c.   Increased number of informal workers to 3,5 million workers by 2019.

d.   Increased percentage of the National Health Insurance Program (SJSN Kesehatan) to a minimum of 95% by 2019.

10.5 Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations. 1. Increased economic growth and the stability of the global financial system. NA
10.6 Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions. 1. Strengthened Indonesia’s economic diplomacy in bilateral, multilateral, regional and global forum;

2. Strengthened Indonesia’s roles in APEC and G-20 advocating the interests of Indonesia and other developing countries;

3. Strengthened roles and leadership in multilateral forum.

a.   85% of acceptance for Indonesia in multilateral forum on the issues of development, economy and environment.

b.   80% of Indonesian leadership in multilateral forum on the issues of development, economy and environment.

10.7 Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. 1. Improved quality of protection for Indonesian citizens/entities abroad;

2. Expanded cooperation for the protection of migrants’ rights and safety.

a.   Training and placement processes (medical check-up, airplane tickets) from private sector (prospective worker) and bank credit.
10.a Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements. 1. Increased benefits from the agreed schemes of international economic dialogues. NA
10.b Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes. 1. Strengthened Indonesia’s roles in the south-to-south and triangular cooperations.

2. Strengthened positive image of Indonesia through its strengthened roles in the provision of quality technical assistances.

a.   By 2019, 75% of positive responses to the technical assistance provided through bilateral and triangular mechanisms.

b.   The number of promotional activities.

c.   Expansion of partnership for the provision of technical assistances in south-to-south and triangular partnerships: 6 reports by 2019.

10.c By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent. 1. Expansion of bank branches and ATM network to facilitate migrant households receiving remittances.

2. G-20 Forum:  Encouraging businesses to lower remittance costs.


[1] The World Bank, Indonesia: Rising Inequality Risks Long-Term Growth Slowdown, available at:

[2] Oxfam, TOWARDS A MORE EQUAL INDONESIA, available at:

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

It is highly appreciated that the GoI is intending to harmonize almost all of the targets under Goal 10 into its development agenda. However, since some of the targets and indicators under SDG 10 are intersecting with other goals, particularly goals on poverty and decent work, therefore we will only focus on one specific human-right related target under Goal 10 namely, ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome (10.3).

Since target 10.3 does not only aim at ensuring equal opportunity, but also at reducing inequality of outcome, therefore we would like to focus on the most disadvantage groups where discrimination, and marginalization have not only been depriving them from the enjoyment of their basic human rights, but have also made them a target of violence and hate namely, religious minority groups and people who have different sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, particularly lesbians, gays, transgender and intersexual persons (LGBTI).

Religious minorities in Indonesia have been struggling with discrimination ranging from difficulty to obtain permits to build places for worship, to persecution. Shia and Ahmadiyah groups are arguably  the most targeted groups as they are stigmatized as deviant religious sects. The stigmatization have made them vulnerable to intimidation and violence from hard-line groups.[1] Moreover, the two groups have been systematically discriminated by various policies and regulations on the grounds of their religions. Lack of protection and discriminatory attitude by the State, especially by local governments,  have sparked vigilanteism fro intolerance groups targeting these communities with  hate and violence. Moreover, many Shiah and Ahmadiyah followers were evicted from their homes to live in precarious conditions in refugee camps.

While, LGBTI communities are also facing similar situation, as they are also stigmatized by the society as practicing deviant sexual behaviors. Lack of protection and systemic discrimination against LGBTI people in Indonesia have resulted into widespread violence endured by them. A research conducted in 2013 shows that 89.3 percent of LGBTI people in Indonesia have experienced violence in their lifetime.[2] Furthermore, LGBTI people have also been facing difficulties in obtaining jobs, especially in the formal sector. As for transgender people, even jobs in the informal sector are very hard to get. A recent report finds that more than 84 percent of transgender women in Jakarta work on the street as sex workers or street singers (pengamen).[3] As a result, poverty is widespread among LGBTI communities in Indonesia. According to another recent report, there are 31 percent of LGBTI people living on less than 1 million rupiah per month, while 38 percent living on 1-2.5 million rupiah, which arguably more than half of the number only live on less than 1.5 million per month.[4] The situation is more severe in transgender community, where more than 94 percent of transgender women are living on 500 thousand to 1 million rupiah.[5]

Therefore, in order to ensure equality and reduce inequality of outcome in accordance to Target 10.3, it is necessary for the GoI to not only revoke discriminatory laws/regulations/policies against religious, sexual and gender minority groups, but it is also important to adopt an anti discrimination law to protect these groups from discrimination and violence. Moreover, it is also important for the GoI to promote equality through education and campaign to tackle stigmatization and traditional views in the society hampering the full protection of the minority groups to enjoy their human rights.

[1] see, Human Rights Watch, In Religion’s Name: Abuses against Religious Minorities in Indonesia, 2013, page.1.

[2] Arus Pelangi, Menguak Stigma, Kekerasan & Diskriminasi Pada LGBT di Indonesia, 2013, page: 62.

[3] See, Sanggar Swara, Situasi Waria Muda di DKI Jakarta, available at:

[4] The basic minimum living cost in Indonesia is 1,813.396 rupah per month. See:

[5] See, Sanggar Swara, Op.cit.

In light of the situation of the most disadvantage groups in Indonesia, as presented in the Gap Analyses section, we highly recommend the GoI to take account of the following human rights aspects in order to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequality of outcome in Indonesia.

National Target National Indicator Suggested HRBA Indicators
10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard. a.   Proportion of the population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed within the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law;

b.   Civil Liberty Index;

c.   The number of human rights complaints being handled;

d.   The number of human rights complaints being handled, particularly on violence against women;

e.   The number of discriminatory policies within the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law.

–    Revocation all discriminatory laws, regulations and policies depriving anyone from exercising their rights to freedom of religion, thought and conscience;

–    Revocation of all discriminatory laws, regulations and policies depriving  anyone from the enjoyment of their human rights on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression;

–    Enactment of an anti-discrimination law, prohibiting any discriminatory practices against anyone on any grounds, including sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression;

–    Adoption of hate crimes and hate speech as punishable acts in the Penal Code;

–    The number of prosecuted and convicted individuals committing violence against anyone based on hate against one’s religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression;

–    Adoption of an integrated citizenship curriculum promoting the principles of inclusion, tolerance, non-discriminatory and human rights through school curriculum at all educational level.

Data Sources:
–    National Legislative Program (Prolegnas);
–    People Reports at the Police;
–    People Reports at Komnas HAM and Komnas Perempuan;
–    Court ruling.

The UN country team can support the GoI to achieve SDG 10 through various technical assistances. As for Target 10.3 on ensuring equality and reducing inequalities of outcome, the GoI can benefit from projects implemented by UNESCO with regard to the promotion of inclusive education, aiming at assisting in the provision of a sound understanding and supporting for the principle of inclusion and its implications which could be applied in the school system by the national and local governments, schools and teachers.


Additional Sources: