FGD Sawit Berkelanjutan Vol. 6: The Agility of Palm Oil Female in Indonesia

FGD Sawit Berkelanjutan Vol. 6: The Agility of Palm Oil Female in Indonesia

PalmOilMagazine, JAKARTA – The fluctuation of crude palm oil (CPO) price in the international markets described the good trend and competition to other kinds of vegetable oil. As the CPO producer, palm oil plantations play the important roles to be sustainable, social, and environmental based on the best and sustainable practices.

Palm oil plantations have uniqueness and appeal for many. The businessmen, smallholders, government, non-government organization, and also the people always notice the plantation in one region. For the reasons, many from different background, such as, sex, tribe, religion, and others come together and be wealth of this nation.

Male and female are normal different sex. But this always be obstacle for many still thought negatively about female in palm oil industries in general and in the plantations in specific.

Some may have issue about sex though the female always gets much bigger appreciation than men when working. Totality and loyalty of a female worker would have big power to struggle for what she does.

There are many stories to tell about palm oil plantation development in Indonesia because the industries highly give impacts to employment for using intensive labors. But still, the industries face issues.

According to the data from Coordinator Ministry in Economy, palm oil sector hired direct workers about 4,2 million men and 12 million men indirect workers. Those who work in people’s plantations reached 2,6 million smallholders who hired about 4,3 million men.

In the economic impact nationally, palm oil industries gave the biggest exchange and one sector that takes part to realize Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), such as, poverty alleviation, increase the people’s economy, namely about 14 million smallholders and their family.

Though the facts are mentioned, palm oil sectors are in debate still, such as, the assumption of human rights violation by telling issue – child labor, gender, and others.

In one side, palm oil sectors are positive to hire men but in the other side, these sectors raised assumptions which need field facts because the worker supply is from not only obeying the regulation, but also from the assumption to break the regulation.

Director of Assurance Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and also Deputy Director in duty RSPO Indonesia, Tiur Rumondang said that palm oil industries are not safe ones for the female and many challenges to face.

The female physical appearance is natural. It is unavoidable if she works at palm oil plantation sectors. The female has her uniqueness. This is our work to make regulation so that they are well protected when working in this sector and the members of RSPO should obey.

It needs to protect the female workers to fulfill their special needs and gender equity should run in every level of work, including for the female in the field.

“It needs to confirm that sustainable practices to protect the female in the plantation run well based on RSPO standards. There should be platform forum for them too,” she said in webinar Forum Group Discussion (FGD) Sawit Berkelanjutan Vol. 6, within the theme “Ketangkasan Perempuan Sawit Indonesia”, in Jakarta (27/4/ 2021) which PalmOilMagazine and RSPO held.

Group Sustainability Lead Cargill Tropical Palm (CTP), Yunita Widiastuti, said Cargill Tropical Palm was made in 2015 to manage the business in Cargill in palm oil production. Its head quarter is in Singapore and has about 18,000 employees.

She also mentioned that of the total employees, 11% are female and they are in the supervisor level from the second grade and up. The manager level 1 and 2 are about 3,3%.

This happens for Cargill is committed to protect human rights, treat other with dignity and respect when working and in the society where the company operates responsibly in whole industries, such as, agriculture, food, financial, and others.

Yunita also admitted that in palm oil industries, the female plays important roles to make sustainable palm oil industries go forward. In CTP, the female has good important position, such as, operational: estate manager, operator mini tractor, loose fruit collector, agronomy team, field assistant, farmer development manager. The female works at supporting departments, such as, environment, health and safety, doctors, sustainability manager, finance manager, communication, and government relations.

That is why Cargill is in collaboration with other stakeholders, such as, government, Indonesian Palm Oil Association (IPOA), RSPO, non-government organizations, the smallholders, and other companies. Cargill tries to create and realize inclusive, various work place to encourage every employee’s potential.

“Cargill tries to increase the existence of female to be more in plantations, providing resources for the candidates, and motivating the female to get better careers in this industry,” she said.

Meanwhile Executive Director of Sawit Watch, Inda Fatinaware said that in general the females in palm oil plantations are the wives, the girls or daughter of the female workers, the labors themselves, and or the wives of male labors. “The investigations and researchers revealed that the female and children are the vulnerable groups (SW 2008),” she said.

She also mentioned that the female in gender construction in palm oil plantations could be the domestic work. It is taken as the work and even the obligation of a female as wife and mother. This is the same with the girl. In some cases, the female workers are not taken as the workers in economic perspective nationally.

“When the female/wife/mother does their work in productive perspective, they are taken as helpers and ‘it seems’ they are invisible, and not taken as the formal statistic,” Inda said.

She also mentioned that the female is only freelancer in plantation sectors. There is no work contract, but small salary based on the company’s order.

In general, when working high risk works, such as, spraying, fertilizing, cutting), the female does not put the health protection tools and available work safety. The female should take everything from their home.

“There is no accident insurance, no health service. They do not get bonus when working, holiday allowance (except if they could work sixty days continuously until the religious days), and others,” she said.

Rukaiyah Rafiq of Forum Petani Kelapa Sawit Berkelanjutan Indonesia (FORTASBI) said that the female in palm oil could be divided into two groups. The first is the transmigrant independent smallholder group. They mostly have limited areas about 2 – 3 hectares (ha) to cultivate. If the transmigrant has something to do with palm oil, their areas must have become the palm oil plantations.

“The female as the head of a family also cultivate the plantations. This is about to minimize the living cost,” Uki, her nick name, said.

The second group is the local smallholders within various width of areas. Palm oil plantations of theirs are not the only source of living. These kinds of female still have others, such as, rubber, umo, and other plantations.

“In this group, they usually pick the seeds, cut off the leaves. The female in this group would work if they have 2 hectares only. But if they have more areas, they would have workers because palm oil plantations are risky and not good for these kinds of female,” she said.

Uki also mentioned, the female in sustainable palm oil standard for the independent smallholders could be seen in Principles and Criteria of RSPO 2018 point 3.1.5 about gender inclusivity to produce sustainable palm oil (for the big producers).

“Including about Theory of Change (ToC) RSPO which tries to realize the protected, respected targets, recovery human rights too. RSPO independent smallholder standards mandate to implement inclusive gender practices,” she said.

She also mentioned that inclusive gender means the equal provision of rights, responsibility, chance for everyone without seeing the gender, sexual orientation, and identity both for man and woman, girl or boy, and others based on personal identity himself/herself. This principle is for everyone/planter namely the manager groups about the practice, and treatment to the workers.

“In RSPO independent smallholder standards namely in the principle, criteria, and indicator, every term of planter, worker, group manager, or labor which comes up would represent a female or male. This would not depend on certain gender identity,” Uki said.


About Diskusi Sawit Bagi Negeri:

Diskusi Sawit Bagi Negeri is an interactive discussion among the stakeholders nationally. It presented many speakers from many backgrounds to give whole description about palm oil. The goal is to give the right understanding about the contribution and existence of palm oil to the country, social, and environment.

Diskusi Sawit Bagi Negeri got the fund supports from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) with the strategic partner Palm Oil Magazine. It involved the stakeholders, such as, the government, the stakeholders, researchers, organizations, social and environmental activists, and others to discuss and develop palm oil in Indonesia.

If you need further information, please contact us, Ignatius Ery Kurniawan, in WA: 081284832789, e-mail:

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