21 April 1879, was the birth date of Raden Ajeng Kartini, a woman who has been regarded as the pioneer of woman’s emancipation movement in Indonesia.
Kartini was born to a royal family in Jepara, Central Java, went to a Dutch school , but was forced to end formal education at 12 and “ secluded at home”, a practice among Javanese nobility at that time to prepare young girls for marriage. In spite of this fact, Kartini kept studying at home and corresponding with some intellectual people in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia at that time), and in the Netherlands, in which she wrote about her wishes and expectations for Indonesian women in the future.
In 1903, her parents forced her marry the Regent of Rembang, Central Java, who already have three wives. But luckily, her husband understood Kartini’s dreams and allowed her to set up a special school for girls. Kartini died after giving birth to a son in 1904.
Since Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945, many of our women have shown that they are professionally capable similar to men in government offices, as well as private entrepreneurs. We once had a woman president, cabinet ministers, governor, mayor, regent, members of parliament, et cetera.
Unfortunately, we also have many women working abroad without sufficient legal protection from the government although they sent lots of money back home.
Besides, the largest Moslem organization in Indonesia i.e. Nahdatul Ulama( N.U), recently declared that girls are allowed to marry under the age of 16 which is the minimum age stipulated by the national Marriage Law.
Considering the above, I would like to wish all Indonesian women a Happy Kartini Day. I hope that all Indonesian women would have a better future.