Equal Access to Elections in Indonesia
Indonesian citizens with disabilities have historically faced many barriers to involvement in elections. Inaccessible voting places resulted in disproportionately low voting rates among persons with disabilities, and election laws excluded them from being elected to parliament and other positions of power. After a decades-long campaign for voting rights, citizens with disabilities are now eligible to run for elected positions and work with election organizing committees like the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the General Election Supervisory Agency (BAWASLU). Ariani Soekanwo, founder of the Center for Election Access of Citizens with Disabilities (PPUA Disabilitas), recounts the struggle for accessible elections and explains the importance of increased involvement in elections by persons with disabilities in the future. *Video includes audio descriptions. *Read along by clicking the cc button on your YouTube player.
*Click here for the Bahasa Indonesia version of this film.
Mahretta “Retta” Maha is a 45-year-old disability rights activist living with blindness. She hails from Jakarta, Indonesia, and is one of four children. Of all the children, Maha's parents prioritized sending Retta to college and eventually law school. She earned a law degree from Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia. In June 2020, Maha became a program officer at the Center for Election Access of Citizens with Disabilities (PPUA), which is part of the National Coalition of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities. PPUA works to ensure equal rights for persons with disabilities to vote, be elected, and organize elections.
As a program officer at PPUA, Maha coordinates with coalition leaders, writes letters to institutions and stakeholders, organizes webinars, and helps manage social media accounts. Overall, Maha finds purpose in serving others. Maha says, “Blindness is not a barrier for you to do some things but is a challenge for you to do many things.”
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