By Susan Blackburn
What do Indonesian ladies wish their kingdom to do for them, and, conversely, what curiosity has the Indonesian nation in its woman voters? Indonesian ladies were organizing themselves for approximately a century in a rustic well known for variety, a up to date switch to democratic rule, and the choice of a lady president. This inquiry listens to their voices through concentrating on parts of maximum public controversy, resembling polygamy, motherhood and violence.
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Additional resources for Women and the State in Modern Indonesia
Kartini chafed against the restrictions facing upper-class girls and wanted to pursue her schooling beyond the elementary level her parents deemed suitable, since girls were destined to be married off in their teenage years. Although Kartini herself died young, the posthumous publication in 1911 of her letters to sympathetic Dutch friends (Kartini 1911) marked an important step in the recognition of Javanese women’s feelings and needs. Kartini admired what she saw as emancipated European women and hoped that the Dutch education would spread ideas of women’s emancipation.
H. Abendanon, the colonial Director of Education. Both he and his wife, Rosa Abendanon, befriended the young aristocratic Javanese woman Raden Ajeng Kartini, whose educational ambitions they encouraged. Kartini’s father, the regent (highest rank among the priyayi) in Japara, was unusual for his times in allowing his daughters to attend Dutch elementary schools. However, when they reached puberty they were confined within the house as was the custom in priyayi families in the period leading up to early marriage – an insurance policy for the virginity of the bride.
Women were to devote themselves to the nation, and concerns like national unity took precedence over women’s issues. During Guided Democracy, there were plenty of occasions for shows of nationalist solidarity as Sukarno led campaigns against the Dutch over their refusal to hand over Papua to the Republic after 1949, and then against Britain and Malaysia in his ‘Crush Malaysia’ campaign. The President drew women into militant activities, such as drilling for national defence. During Guided Democracy the women’s movement fell into line with his agenda, subordinating previous priorities to those of the President.