Today, April 21, 2010 we celebrate what has been known as “Kartini’s Day.” A special day dedicated to R.A Kartini who has put up a brave fight. Fight to win her equality with men. Live in 19th century, she was the daughter of Assistant of Head of Regency who was also the descendant of a noble family. During that period, access to higher level of education was restricted for women. Old Javanese tradition, “pingitan time,” is a time when a teenage girl has to stay inside the house and is not allowed to go out until a man propose her. According to this Javanese traditional rule, a teenage girl has to be secluded and her activity was limited, including Kartini. She then spent her time by reading books she got from her relatives. She believed that tears and sadness would not change anything. She decided to enroll EUROPESE LAGERE SCHOOL. Then she also wanted to enroll higher education level, but unfortunately the tradition did not allowed her to do so. But Kartini seemed to have greater idea about education, by using her knowledge and creative thought she was able to establish a “school” on the backyard of city hall for local people. She also wrote a book, titled “Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang” (it shortly means “after dark there is light”). Its original title was “Dari Gelap Menuju Terang” (or From Darkness Approaching The Light). She has been a great inspiration for women all over the country who continue the struggle to set women free from legal, social or political restrictions. She has pioneered Women's Emancipation.
Anyway, her story and the celebration have inspired me to write something about empowering women. In many places, education is special privilege for boys. Including in my country, my culture (my old and current culture) and my people. Education is prioritized only for men. Many people think, “it’s useless for women to be educated, in the end they will just be mother, housewife. Whose occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework. So, they don’t need to be educated.”
When I read the 6th mission – Empowering women, I thought about what I can do to help them. Then a friend reminded me of this day, Kartini’s day. And I realized one thing, about my culture, my people, my tradition and myself. I decided to start with myself.
The fact is that I am a young woman and a Javanese; during this century fortunately the tradition has changed a lot. I did not have to stay at home for “pingitan” time and I'm allowed to freely access education at any level. But still there are things have not yet changed. In some places, particularly the rural ones, men are still having greater power as decision maker compared to women. For them, women are not yet (or maybe not at all) determined to be leader, moreover for younger women. Still difficult for them to accept the fact that there is young woman sits together with them and leads, for example, a meeting, their meeting. It does a real challenge. And I’ve to deal with this situation couple of times. In front of me they might not say anything, but I knew it from the way they answer, the ways they treat me and other women who’s taking the lead of anything that involved them.
But, I decided not to give up. I will keep moving forward, strengthening my strength, improving my capabilities and stretching my thought, my abilities to the limit. Also keep encouraging my sisters, friends and girls I know and have been working with through the organization I'm working for.
I can go higher, I know I will soar, I’m taller, I’m stronger, I’m better than before. (Taller, Stronger, Better – by Guy Sebastian)
I do believe that I can do something with this, I can share with the girls in our intervention areas here that they can do many things, they can’t be limited by anything. They just have to give a try and then keep trying. Just never give up!! :)