Today we celebrate our Heroes, yes wes named it Kartini’s day.
Raden Ajeng Kartini (21 April 1879 – 17 September 1904), was a pioneer in the area of women’s rights for Indonesians.Kartini was born into an aristocratic Javanese family when Java was part of the Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies. Kartini was the fifth child and second eldest daughter in a family of eleven, including half siblings. She was born into a family with a strong intellectual tradition. Her grandfather, Pangeran Ario Tjondronegoro IV, became a Regency Chief at the age of 25 while Kartini’s older brother Sosrokartono was an accomplished linguist. Kartini’s family allowed her to attend school until she was 12 years old. Here, among other subjects, she learnt to speak Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women at the time. After she turned 12 she was ‘secluded’ at home, a common practice among Javanese nobility, to prepare young girls for their marriage. During seclusion girls were not allowed to leave their parents’ house until they were married, at which point authority over them was transferred to their husbands. Kartini’s father was more lenient than some during his daughter’s seclusion, giving her such privileges as embroidery lessons and occasional appearances in public for special events.
During her seclusion, Kartini continued to educate herself on her own. Because she could speak Dutch, she acquired several Dutch pen friends. One of them, a girl by the name of Rosa Abendanon, became a close friend. Books, newspapers and European magazines fed Kartini’s interest in European feminist thinking, and fostered the desire to improve the conditions of indigenous Indonesian women, who at that time had a very low social status.
After Raden Ajeng Kartini died, Mr J. H. Abendanon, the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies, collected and published the letters that Kartini had sent to her friends in Europe. The book was titled Door Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Dark Comes Light / Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang) and was published in 1911. The publication of R.A. Kartini’s letters, written by a native Javanese woman, attracted great interest in the Netherlands and Kartini’s ideas began to change the way the Dutch viewed native women in Java. Her ideas also provided inspiration for prominent figures in the fight for Independence.
Kartini’s concerns were not only in the area of the emancipation of women, but also other problems of her society. Kartini saw that the struggle for women to obtain their freedom, autonomy and legal equality was just part of a wider movement.
Indonesian women nowadays have wider access to express their ideas and opinions. Women have greater opportunity to distribute their ideas in television and printed media such as newspapers and magazines. Even ordinary women can take chances to represent their ideas in larger social context trought social networking. Like we do now. We’re equal with mens, but it doesn’t mean overwhelming gender equality. Indonesian women are still struggling to practice what Kartini advocated in her letters, but as we are reminded by her letters: “If we want to attain a perfect civilization, then the maturation of intelligence and conscience must go side by side.”
Thank you Kartini for your inspirations.
We brave enough to have a dream, believe it and make it happen.
So are you ready to catch your dream, Girls? 😉
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