Kartini Day

Today, Indonesia celebrates the birth of Kartini, a javanese woman that lived hundred years ago.  She went to school up to 12 years old ~~which kind of an exclusive right only for the rich woman~~ and then open a school for women in her neighbourhood, study autodidact and make a famous-correspondence-that-then-published-as-a-book with her friend in Netherlands. The book titled: Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang.  After the dark a light arise.

Her writing filled with a spirit for change.  To change the javanese women that was not allowed to have an education.  To change the situation where women treats like a second-class citizen.  To change the system where the girls was not able to choose their own husbands, and more and more.

What makes the story about her was quite not my favorite is ~~and I know many people share the same thought~~ that she was not able to change herself.  She then became the second wife for another old regent, and passed away while having her labor.  It is quite bad to be involved in polygamy, while her writing reflect a constant spirit for change.

Few years ago, when I was working for a reproductive health program, I happened to visit her former house.  10 Km from it, there is a village, that still practice early-age marriage.  The girls will matched with a man, right after they got their first menstruation period.  Then they drop-off school, get married and stayed home for a year of two, before they would divorced by their husband. After that, they will free to choose a man they want to marry or free to work.  Most of them will go to the cities and work as a housemaid.  So, at the age of around 20s, they might already experienced a second or third marriage.

Observed the life of Kartini, I was not so surprised to see it. Kartini’s spirit might high for a change but she herself has no power to choose herself.  Where the women all over the world talk about high education and women equalization, the girls in this village still trapped.  With the wide signal of television and wide distribution of media with a women equalization campaign, the women in this village is untouched.

I am not against the day of Kartini, when children at school wear traditional costume and sing the hymn for her, but I rather think about thousand of women out there who not only have the passion for change and spirit for equalization, but also have the braveness to change themselves. I know many of them. Their name never heard, and they never called a hero.  Yet, the change they made change the women and change the world.


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