I have to open people’s eyes, says Indonesia’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection
Australia Awards alumna Prof. Dr. Yohana Susana Yembise is making the most of her role as Indonesia’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. “I am an independent woman following my natural instinct to lead,” she says. “I would like to become an agent of change by empowering women to be more powerful in all aspects of their lives and in national development. I want young women to stand up and fight for their rights and freedom.”
Even before her ministerial appointment, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson, described Prof. Dr. Yohana Yembise as one of the highest-achieving Australian Development Scholarship (now Australia Award) alumni.
Her world view has been shaped in part by her studies overseas—in Singapore, Canada and Australia where in 2007, aided by an Australian Development Scholarship, she earned a PhD in Teaching English as a Second Language at Newcastle University.
She maintains links with the university and remains a strong advocate for overseas study as a means of broadening minds and horizons. At one stage, she was on a selection panel in Indonesia awarding Australian Development Scholarships to talented young Indonesians wanting to pursue higher education in Australia.
In 2012 she had the honour of becoming Papua’s first ever female professor when she was named professor in the Faculty of Teacher Training and Education at the University of Cenderawasih in Papua.
Then, just two years later in 2014, President Joko Widodo named her Indonesia’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. The role suits her perfectly.
Now in the senior ranks of Indonesia’s government, Minister Yembise is determined to raise the status of women in Indonesia.
“I have to open people’s eyes to ensure issues for women and children are seen as part of our national development. I have been through the experience of facing strong customary law and religion, yet I have proven that women can make a difference,” she said.