Brief History, Road of Indonesia Women Movement

youth feminist
youth feminist

women activist 1929women activist 1938

Brief History, Road of Indonesia Women Movement

Brief History
The road of Indonesian Women Movement

Before Independence Day: – 1945
Women’s movement joint with male counterpart with general organization to fight for independence—the National Movement period. This was a diplomacy struggle.
Inspired by Kartini’s (see Letter of Javanese Princess, Clifford Geertz)letter youth within youth organization bring out nationalism to the movement.

Those women’s organization such as Putri Mardika 1914 in Jakarta, Women’s wing of Boedi Oetomo 1920 in Yogyakarta, Siti Fatimah women’s wing of Sarekat Islam in 1918. Aisyiah 1912, women’s wing of Muhamadiyah and Poetri Indonesia,

Among those organization they become actively involved in National Movement to held Youth Congres in 1928, where young man and women declared Indonesia as one nation, one islands, and one language: Indonesia. Among many women who participate as organizing committee was Sujatin (later-Kartowiyono), a member of Poetri Indonesia. Most of the organization later after the independence day merger and become a mass women’s organization.

The movement achievement was held first Indonesian Women’s Congress 22, December, 1928 in Mataram (Yogyakarta). The project officer for the Congress was Sujatin, with member of the OC Mrs,Sukonto and Nyi Hajar Dewantara, The first congress attended by various women’s organization from throughout Indonesia. The women has similar goal to recommend such as equality for education with increasing school for women, economics support for widow and orphan by colonial government and not to cut welfare benefit. First Indonesian women’s congress agreed to held congress each year. The name for the umbrella organization is PPI (Perikatan Perempuan Indonesia-Federation of Indonesian Women, later in 1946 Kowani-Indonesian Women’s Congress), In congress 1938, women’s demand a representative in People Council, and proposed Maria Ulfah, but then Dutch woman was elected.

The were extraordinary movement within this period, was that current women’s issues such as prostitution, reproduction rights, economic independent, marital leave already brought into serious discussion. The women even brought the issues to formal level, which was to colonial government. Those was shown when the Special Commission Report on to examined less fortune people in village in 1914, where nine women has given their thought about women’s situation. As Raden Ayu Siti Sundari wrote in Wanito Sworo (Women’s Voice) about education and the right of women to have profession and has income as well to have equal paid for equal work. There were much discussion about trafficking women, and in 1938 PPI initiate to form P4A (Perkumpulan Pemberantasan Perdagangan Perempuan dan Anak- Association for Abolition of Trade in Women and Children)

During Japanese occupation 1942-1945, women’s movement forced to help Japanese as follow with male. There were Barisan Pekerja Perempuan PUTERA (Pusat Tenaga Rakyat-Center for People’s Power), as women’s branch of PUTERA, and create FUJINKAI for wives of highest officials.
Within this period too, women from all over Indonesia especially Java, brought as slave of jugun ianfu. Where women being forced to leave their homes and works for Japanese soldiers, as slave of sex slave. They were sent to abroad, even to outside Indonesia.

Women’s movement continued their struggle with male counterpart in time proclamation day 17 Agustus 1945. of Independence Revolution.

1945-1949 Independence Revolution

This was where women put aside their interest and joined the military action with male counterpart. Women’s too, formed organization to support the fully independence of Indonesia. One of the organization Wani (Wanita Indonesia or Indonesian Women). Most of the member of women’s movement involved in public kitchen or logistic for Indonesian soldiers. But there were a lot of them who join in women’s military squad as Laskar Wanita.

By the year 1947, Soekarno, the first president of Indonesia launch his book Sarinah. It was a book to inspired women to work together with male counterpart against imperialism and colonialism. This was a book to mobilized women. At the last chapter of the book, Soekarno gave Indonesian women promise that if Indonesia independent has achieved, Indonesian women too will have their freedom.

It was Soekarno too, who was elected a woman as a minister, In 1946, Maria Ulfah Santoso has been appointed to be a Social Minister for Sjahrir (prime minister) Cabinet. Maria Ulfah was an activist of PSI (Socialist Party of Indonesia). Woman formed party too, it was Women’s People’s Party (Partai Rakyat Wanita, 1946). And SK Trimurty as the second woman minister as Labor Minister in 1946.

1950-1965 Guided Democracy

This period was the most lively women’s movement the same as the situation in national political sphere. Women’s issue on marriage as prominent discourse has caused women’s divergence to two way of looking on polygyny. This happened after Sukarno marriage a second wife Hartini 1954, and in 1952 the Government Regulation No.19 Year 1952 (PP No.19/Thn.1952 allowed civil servant to have more than one wife. This period too, women bond to male party. And many women’s organization has similarity with their umbrella party.

As for polygyny, there were mass demonstration which initiated by PERWARI (Persatuan Wanita Republik Indonesia) to abolish the Government Regulation No.19 Year 1952. Other women’s organization which follow the demonstration are, GERWIS (later become GERWANI), and Wanita Katholik. Islamic women’s organization whose agreed with the regulation were Aisyiah and Muslimat. Muslimat was women’s wing of Masyumi Party.

1966-1982 The time of Vacuum

Early before Soekarno’s fall many of new women’s organization separate between three ideological backgrounds. There were influence by Islam, Nationalist and Socialist-Communist. Because socialist party has been banned by Sukarno’s government, the communist influence become largest part of the situation. And there were a new movement of from the army-link. It was the growing influence of Bhayangkari, women’s organization of police wife, and Dharma Pertiwi organization of the wife of army.

The Sukarno’s fall, and succeeded by General Suharto, caused many women’s organization invalid. Women’s organization suspected to involved in the coup or has link with communist party has been banned. The leaders and members of that organization were being imprison. If not, women who ever joined the communist – link organization, has to hide themselves, or their views. The military regime create a monolithic system of women organization. There are Dharma Wanita for wife of civil servant, Bhayangkary for wife of police officers, PKK for women in general, whether in rural or urban. The head of PKK was the wife of official in local to national level of government. This was the vacuum period of true women’s movement.

1982-2000 The hope

In 1982 the beginning of second phase women’s movement in Indonesia. It was when the Kalyanamitra, an Non Government Organization was formed. Formed by several women’s students from University of Indonesia as Sita Aripurnami, Mira Dyarsi and Ratna Saptari. The activity begin with the information and documentation for women. It was a place for everyone who wants to know the information about women’s issue could come. Later the organization works for advocating women’s issues, as women’s against violence, counseling and women’s in politics,

Due to repressive government of Suharto, the organization sometimes has to face threat by the police of intelligence agency where they find the publication by Kalyanamitra was subversive.

After Kalyanamitra other women organization formed, it was LBH APIK (Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice) 1994 which focus work to help women get legal aid it was formed by Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Nur Amelia, Tumbu Saraswati and Rita Serena Kolibonso, Solidaritas Perempuan (Women Solidarity)1992 to help women’s migrant worker to have aid, advocacy and information among the pioneer was Taty Krisnawati and Cita Anjangsejati, Jurnal Perempuan (women’s journal) 1996 feminist journal for public readers,

Before Suharto’s fall in 1998 was blessing in disguise for women. Women’s voice become loud, and they tried to make voice even hard heard. The situation was very hard for women, high price for milk and rice, women was so hard to manage their family needs. So it was women who initiate the movement against Suharto, by using femaleness. Women formed Suara Ibu Peduli, they held demonstration in center city. Three women capture by police and held for almost 23 hours to be interograted. It was the beginning of the fall of Suharto.

The May riot 1998, has caused women’s victims of rape, make community against violence concern and proposed to government to form Komisi Nasional Anti Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan (National Commission of Women’s Against Violence) 1998 which help women’s nationally to coordinating to create a more conducive and saver for women’s survivor of violence. In 1998 too, women held congress which attended by women from various background, they comes from many organization and individual, after the congress they formed yet, another mass women’s organization Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi (Indonesian Women’s Coalition for Justice and Democracy), and in 2000, several women’s students and University of Indonesia Alumny formed CERMIN Perempuan Memandang Dunia a young feminist tabloid, it was a organization merely to publish tabloid which speak national and local issue with women’s perspective and using a popular language.


>The politization of Gender Relation in Indonesia, Saskia Wrienga, Academisch Proefschrift, Geboren te Amsterdam 1995
>Peranan dan Kedudukan Wanita Indonesia, Ny,Maria Ulfah Subadio S.H., Dr,Ny. T,O Ihromi Gajah Mada Univ, Press 1978,

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