Kartini’s Dream and Indonesian Women Today
Raden Ajeng Kartini stands out among the other heroines in Indonesia. There is also a red-letter day to commemorate related to her action. Why so special about her? Did she fight against the colonials at the battlefield just like what Cut Nyak Dien did? Why was she called as a heroine? What did she fight for? Raden Ayu Kartini also known as Raden Ajeng Kartini was a Javanese aristocrat, a daughter of Regency Chief of Jepara, named Sosroningrat. Since she was a descendant of nobility family, she was allowed to attend Dutch colonial schools but forced to quit at the age of twelve. The prevailing regulation had all teenage women secluded at home. They were prohibited to leave their home until they were married and transferred to their husband. Fathers pressured their daughters to marry early according to one’s economic and social place. Who a woman married defined her after she left her father house. Raden Ajeng Kartini was raised in intellectual and wealthy family. Owing to intelectual inclination, Raden Ajeng Kartini became the one among other peers at her age who mastered Ducth language both written and oral. In the confinement of her solitude, Raden Ajeng Kartini spent her time just to read and to write. Because of her competency in Dutch language, she found it easy to devour all magazines, newspaper, books written in Dutch. By doing so, Kartini’s political views and feminist ideas were built gradually. She also began to make contribution to Dutch women's magazine 'De Hollandsche Lelie'. In the midst of her seclusion, Raden Ajeng Kartini corresponded with her Dutch friends about many subjects, primarily the discrimination against women. To cut a long story short, Mr J. H. Abendanon, the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies, compiled the letters that Kartini had sent to her Dutch friends and published into a collection titled from From Darkness to Light.
The Kartini's letters collected by Mr J. H. Abendanon were initially her dreams of Javanese woman emancipation to obtain legal equality under a feudal and Javanese tradition that restricted females getting their rights to yield higher education. She told in her letters that these Javanese women, the daughters, the young girls, the wives, and the mothers struggled to break free from the boundaries of the patriarchal system. Because of in the patriarchal and colonial contexts, women were always subjugated and treated as second class citizens. Protesting against the polygamy, enlightening motherhood, people's welfare and family obligation were also conveyed in her writing. She felt very concerned about her society. She saw that the condition of Javanese women at that time was execrabel. The lack of freedom, discrimination and seclusion had haunted all over Javanese women. Raden Ajeng Kartini wanted gender quality & cut down the dominant male-centric of Indonesia society. That women can be independence, have the right to choose what they would like to be, do what they want to do hence none can urge to do this and that. Nevertheless, her struggle became contradiction when she married to a man who already had three wives and made her abandoned the dream of getting education in Europe. In spite of the marriage, it didn't stop her from fighting for achieving women's rights. His husband fully supported her passion for opening schools for women regardless of their social status.
Raden Ajeng Kartini is now acknowledged as a precursor of women’s right and emancipation. Only with paper and pen, she struggled for the discrimination against women. A radical breakthrough that still shows feminine side of a rebellious woman. She pointed out the warfare against inequity in a beauty way. She represented a nationalist figure who inspired most of Indonesian women.
Behind the awesomeness, tenderness and gracefulness that women have, there is amazing power that could change the world. Kartini had proved it century ago. She didn’t need sharped bamboos, spears to struggle in the battlefield. She didn’t need a single weapon to eradicate colonialism in Indonesia. She only needed her visions, her thoughts to resist and overthrow opressive Javanese tradition. She is truly indegenous prominent Javanese woman who’s brave enough to speak up her mind about everything she saw in her surrounding.
More than a century after her death, the changes that Indonesian women have seen and been affected by Kartini’s letter have been phenomenal. Indonesian women now have gained remarkable achievement in politics, in the work force, in the household and many others. There has been once in a lifetime of Indonesian history that woman participated in politics and run the country. She is Megawati Soekarnoputri, a daughter of Indonesian proclamator and the first president of Indonesia. In the work force, there are many Indonesian women who took the lead in their careers as entreupeneurs and as executives for State-Owned Enterprises like Karen Agustiawan, the director of Pertamina. In certain sectors, Indonesian women have also outpaced their male counterparts and closed the gap between males and females in the work force. They succeeded elevating women’s position equal to men and according women’s power in public life, diplomacy, and other structures. Kartini’s boldness has definitely changed the prespective of women in yielding education. With higher education, the opportunities for women yielding better jobs are greater than ever before. Also, it has widely affected Indonesian women today to become more courageous and independence. They have guts to select their spouse without intervention their parents, to choose their own path through life like determining what they would like to be and pursuing their dreams.
Beside Indonesian women now are making outstanding contributions to the progress of modern society, the status of Indonesian women has been greatly improved as well, particularly the role of women in the household. Whether you expect a baby or not, whether you choose to be a full-time mother who responsibles for the needs of the whole family or to be a career woman.
The Indonesian Women have come a long way but they keep facing a number of challenges to gaining political and social economic equality with men. There are still differences in the way women are treated. It relates to a women's social status, educational background, ethnicity, the place in which they live and the economy of the district. The problems of poverty, of discriminatory laws, and of sexual assault still remains for Indonesian women.
After all, Raden Ajeng Kartini was short-lived. She passed away at the age of twenty five, whilst giving birth to her first son. As a mother, she’s a genuine heroine. She sacrified her life in order to keep her son alive. Though she didn’t live long, her spirit and enthusiasm still keep alive and Kartini holds a special place in the history of Indonesia Nationalism.