Indonesia Feminist Theory and Practices


March 14, 2007



ØBy the year1980s enter a “new” perspective to liberating women. Indonesia’s women students and activist learn about liberal feminist ideology mostly from US and UK.

ØState of Indonesia forced by (US) to have women’s empowerment minister. In 1978-1983, there was a first Young State Minister of Women: Lasijah Soetanto.

ØWomen students engage with ‘male stream’ left organization (mostly discussion groups). Women who joined male organization, later on formed a new women organization with feminist as their main perspectives to criticized society and state. One of these was Kalyanamitra. In order to be saved as organization from scrutinized New Order regime, Kalyanamitra chose their operation as women’s information centers.

ØOther women organization formed follow with women issue and use analytical and build organization with feminist ideology.

ØMost of new women’s organization tried to build their organization by self funded and only accepted from small donation (philanthropy) and a bit from outside foreign resources.

ØWomen’s organization were introduced analysis Women in Development

Ø1990s enter ‘so called funding agency” to funded women’s organizations. Those funding agencies from ‘Western’ nations.

ØBy mid 1990s women’s organizations raised their voices and media give them more attention. And word of “Gender” almost became mainstream word. In 1992 women’s activists formed Solidaritas Perempuan, organization focused women’s migrant worker work and poor women, in 1994 LBH APIK (Women Legal Aid Asociation) was formed. And Jurnal Perempuan, a first Indonesia feminist journal that sold to public is formed by lectures of University of Indonesia started published in 1996.

ØEarly 1998 varied women from different organizations worked together hand in hand (held secret meeting and have secret code) to opposed Soeharto’s regime and concerned about high prices foods and milks. Their decision was to have demonstration against Soeharto, it was February 21, 1998. Small number women, approx 20 (who dared!) held a demonstration, these women called them-selves Suara Ibu Peduli. In order not too sound politics. Three women arrested by the police.During their trial, many well-known activists (men/women) came to the court to support them. And there was media frenzy. (see Quite Room in the Movement)

ØMost the women organizations claimed to be with feminist ideology, and tried to build organization with non-hierarchical organization. Somehow until now, there was not yet consensus and acclaimed commitment about what was/is Indonesia Feminist. There was one writer/researcher characterized that Indonesia feminism are: women with religion, not against marriage, and work to together with male counterpart.

My views with Indonesia feminism are: marriage is one of option in life, sexual in the closet (do not share discourse about sexuality openly), claimed as socialist feminism but do not reject middle class-bourgeois privilege, religious person is important and have became ally, practiced liberal lifestyle (consumed) and ignore capitalism of which covered, do not interest with feminist militancy in discourse or actions. @Umi Lasminah


Long before Indonesia gain her Independence Day from the Netherlands in 1945, women already enter the movement hand in hand with their male counterpart to struggle for Independence nation. When the youth and youth organization started in Hindia Belanda/Dutch Indies such as Jong Java, there was a wing for female students Puteri Indonesia.  We might called this earlier young women to enter politics of organization as the earlier feminism. Most of them were inspired by Kartini’s point of view of independent and equality between male and female.

Eearlier Indonesia feminism (as word feminism is word invented from Western/US/Europe), the earlier women movement inspired by Kartini who have knowledge about women emancipation from reading books, seeing her her neighborhood, and from her penpals in the Netherlands.  One of prominent feminist was Soejatin who was one of the leader in Organizing Committee of first Woman Congress in  22 Desesmbe 1928. In her autobiography she mention Kartini has inspired her, and she was continued to wrote about women’s movement with feminist point of view later on in 1950s.

Women Against the Higher Price Fuels

against poverty

Women Against the Higher Price Fuels

The story of women protest against higher price fuel is untold stories. Along the history of Indonesian nation, women (and men) in line to bought limited fuels, especially kerosene. That was the story of Indonesia worrisome, especially women who lives in rural areas. Women upbringing, were socially raised to care more for other. They worrier about their future, their life and their family on and on when all price is getting higher, while their economic status staged. All cause by the higher price of fuel.

It is women mostly mothers who has to manage survival of their family, without affected much by the industrial and capitalization community. Their practice subsistence perspective, give strength to manage and maintain fulfill the needs with nature give, and reserve them in return. For fuels, many women do not using petroleum and do not use money in their mode of trades. Petroleum is obvious form of industry and money is the other word for industry.

Fuels; firewood, oil, coal, and gas. There are natural resource now, has its greater function in vivacious society. These energy mainly functions are for public purpose and domestic. For human wellbeing meets their needs. Fuels energy for public used for mode mass production in factory, and domestic purpose for every household to cook food in order to get hygiene foods. Energy dominated used function of fuels by male, are drain from earth’s exploitation, oil, coal and gas “petroleum production”. Selling petroleum product is big profit as well as need big capital. An oil company becomes wealthy by exploiting the land and people of countries it explores in.

Women do not share ownership in many oil companies. And the second used energy of fuels are for domestic, mostly manage by women, and it was not always petroleum, it is too firewood. For petroleum product, women are consumer, not producers. They do not own capital, skill, and natural resources for petroleum exploration or exploitation. Women do not have much chance to works offshore and involved to explore and exploit earth for oil. Male domination in public is rigid for mechanic works, especially in Oil Company. But it was women who actually have to deal with oil for daily basis of human lives. Women need fuels for cooking. Now, petroleum is the only fuels provide in urban areas, and kerosene is replacement of firewood.

Not until 1980s most Jakarta’s people using kerosene. There were still many households using firewood. Even my family, and neighborhood up until 1975, at houses for civil servant in South Jakarta were used firewood and kerosene. They were collected unused timber, from home industry of handicraft and furniture, for free.

In many parts of Indonesia, until today still use firewood for household need and home industry. When I was joined field study in 1994 in Waliwis village, Tanggerang district about 70 km from Jakarta, many households and home industry still using firewood. They bought firewood from local merchants. Even back than, there still not have any electricity. Now, less and less people using firewood, though millions families in rural areas are still. They are using firewood as traditional way they know and could afford. It is not by choice. They don’t know any other available fuels. Even though they could afford to buy kerosene, its not always stock in near areas. But still women manage to keep their family life and cooks. How women do that, rarely mention in news. Women embrace habit, genuine way to preserve life, as they were gave birth life. One of them is mode of trade barter, where money is not involved.

Barter as mode of trade has been and practice by women in: Lombok Timur, Lombok Tengah, West Nusa Tenggara; Lamalera in East Nusatenggara: Sukolilo, Pati, and Central Java, in East Java; and many others. Barter is mode of trade in part of Central Lombok, Eastern Lombok and Southern Lombok while in dry season. Goods to trade are mostly clothes and food. This mode of trade has basic relation intra human. They do not need large vehicle and do not use petroleum. These are real complementary and trust system. In Java people whose using barter as mode of trade mostly lives in village where still influenced by Samin movement. That is a disobedient movement against Dutch colonial tax system.

In dry season, people in Kawo village, Panujak village, Batujai, Selonk Blanak (West Nusantenggara) barter pieces rock for corn, rice and clothes. In October to December go out from their village to become labor or they look for rock and stones and sell to other village whose might need stone for build a house.

Most people who do not trade in conventional/modern market are for distance reason. Markets are far away from their place. With very limited transportation they preferred to sale what they have around. During the higher price of fuel, most people in village do not have direct impact. They do not need kerosene, they still using firewood.

While women throughout Indonesia, across class has agreed that petroleum fuels price should not increase, do not knows how to expressed their anxiety and confused. Only few women with awareness, bravely and extra energy put their view in the street with demonstration. But that does not mean women agreed. There were mothers who join demonstration month before new fuels induced by government. That was Suara Ibu Peduli. Though they have thousands of members throughout Jakarta to Bogor, it is difficult to create huge mass of women to protest and sounding their voice. Women have to do what they have to do at home, preparing the needs member of the family. If they join the protest, who will do the work, they do not have helper (maid) in family. And the result look dreary, too many

demonstrations, too many protests, but limited mass.

Anyhow, despite the fact of limited mass and demonstrators, that was the effort showing of disagreement of increasing petroleum price. And in time of democracy process, there were too, has effort of showing of the conformity. There were middle class Indonesia, mostly middle and upper class from academic, jurnalism, or activist background, agreed, so agree, that they even put an advertisement to support policy to increasing petroleum price, in Kompas. They were put their name in name of Freedom Institute, their list name are: Andi Mallarangeng, Anggito Abimanyu, Ayu Utami, Bimo Nugroho, Franz Magnis Soeseno, Lin Che Wei, Dana Iswara, Dino Pati Djalal. The advertisement said “WHY WE SUPPORT DECREASING PETROLEUM SUBSIDED”, with argument prepared by LPEM UI (Lembaga Penelitian Ekonomi Manajemen Universitas Indonesia/Economic Management Research Institute University of Indonesia) “assumption” data on the impact of higher price fuels. One page advertisement in Kompas, is expensive cost for an ad almost 90 millions rupiahs. Strategically printed Saturday (26 February 2005), where many people buy that newspaper for looking of vacancy advertisement. I guess for the first time, it is rather good to have limited women in public, for there were only 4 women out of 36 who put their names in the list. That was at least, showed middle class women do not have to stand the opposite with majority women, lower class women.


22desember20062.jpgantipoligami2.jpgGerakan Tolak Poligami 2006, copywright foto Wilmar WitoelarDemonstration against polygamy 1953

Belajar dari Sejarah Pendahulu Gerakan Perempuan

Memperingati HARI IBU ( Hari Gerakan Perempuan) 22 Desember 2006



Sejarah Gerakan perempuan Indonesia tak lepas dari gerakan social pada umumnya. Perempuan aktif dalam kegiatan organisasi pemuda organisasi berlatar belakang kedaerahan seperti Jong Java, Jong Sumatra atau Jong Ambon. Perempuan Indonesia juga aktivis pergerakan nasional, meski nama dan kerjanya tidak dicatat sejarah. Faktanya perempuan ikut mendeklarasian Sumpah Pemuda 28 Oktober 1928. Saat itu pada organisasi umum juga divisi perempuan seperti Wanito Tomo dari Boedi Oetomo, Poetri Indonesia dari Poetra Indonesia dan Wanita Taman Siswa dari Taman Siswa. Organisasi perempuan yang berdiri di awal gerakan di antaranya adalah Putri Mardika, 1916.

Perempuan pelopor yang menjadi panitia pelaksana Kongres Perempuan Indonesia I 928 dan ikut dalam deklarasi Sumpah Pemuda 1928 antara lain Soejatin, Nyi Hajar Dewantoro, Sitti Sundari dan lain-lain. Merekalah inisiator dan penggerak Kongres Perempuan Pertama 22 Desember 1928.

Kongres Perempuan Indonesia pertama 1928 adalah Momentum Kesadaran Kolektif Perempuan Indonesia untuk memperjuangkan hak-hak perempuan bersama-sama. Kesadaran mengenai berbagai permasalahan yang hingga kini, tahun 2006 masih relevan: poligami, perdagangan orang, kekerasan, dan buruh perempuan


Kongres Perempuan Pertama 22-25 Desember 1928

Kongres Perempuan Indonesia 1928 bersifat kooperatif. Artinya perjuangan dilakukan dengan menjalin kerja sama dengan pemerintah kolonial. Secara resmi Kongres mengakui pemerintah kolonial, dan mengajukan usulan pada pemerintah. Ini strategi untuk memudahkan penyebarluasan gagasan kepada perempuan dan masyarakat umum, terutama pihak kolonial. Sehingga perempuan kelas menengah atau bangsawan tidak takut bergabung atau ikut serta dengan anggapan tidak radikal. Pemerintah kolonial sendiri masih memiliki nostalgia keberhasilan politik etis (kemajuan pendidikan bangsa bumi putra) pada perempuan. Juga adanya anggapan pemerintah dan masyarakat, mengenai stereotipe kegiatan perempuan dan organisasi perempuan yang bersifat social dan hobby. Organisasi perempuan dianggap tidak-politis. Strategi ini diperkuat dengan keputusan Kongres untuk tidak membicarakan “politik” dalam arti umum. Kongres menekankan pembahasan masalah perempuan sesuai anggapan umum dan pemerintah kolonial, sebagai tidak-politis.

Perempuan dengan berbagai latar belakang suku, agama, kelas, dan ras Berkumpul dan bersatu dalam Kongres yang dilaksanakan di Mataram (Yogyakarta, sekarang pen.). Umumnya yang hadir dalah perempuan muda. Persiapan Kongres dilakukan di Jakarta, dengan susunan panitia: Nn. Soejatin dari Poetri Indonesia sebagai Ketua Pelaksana, Nyi Hajar Dewantara dari Wanita Taman Siswa sebagai Ketua Kongres, dan Ny. Soekonto dari Wanito Tomo sebagai Wakil Ketua.

Kongres dihadiri perwakilan 30 organisasi perempuan dari seluruh Indonesia, di antaranya adalah Putri Indonesia, Wanito Tomo, Wanito Muljo, Wanita Katolik, Aisjiah, Ina Tuni dari Ambon, Jong Islamieten Bond bagian Wanita, Jong Java Meisjeskring, Poetri Boedi Sedjati, Poetri Mardika dan Wanita Taman Siswa.

Berbagai isu utama masalah perempuan dibahas pada rapat terbuka. Topiknya antarea lain: kedudukan perempuan dalam perkawinan; perempuan ditunjuk, dikawin dan diceraikan di luar kemauannya; poligami; dan pendidikan bagi anak perempuan. Pembahasan melahirkan debat dan perbedaan pendapat dari berbagai organisasi perempuan. Walaupun begitu tak menghalangi kenyataan yang diyakini bersama, yaitu perempuan perlu lebih maju. Berdasarkan hasil pembahasan antara lain Kongres memutuskan:

1. mengirimkan mosi kepada pemerintah kolonial untuk menambah sekolah bagi anak perempuan;

2. pemerintah wajib memberikna surat keterangan pada waktu nikah (undang undang perkawinan); dan segeranya

3. memberikan beasiswa bagi siswa perempuan yang memiliki kemampuan belajar tetapi tidak memiliki biaya pendidikan, lembaga itu disebut stuidie fonds;

4. mendirikan suatu lembaga dan mendirikan kursus pemberatasan buta huruf, kursus kesehatan serta mengaktifkan usaha pemberantasan perkawinan kanak-kanak;

Selain putusan di atas, berbagai perkumpulan berdiri atas inisiatif peserta Kongres untuk membela dan melindungi hak perempuan, di antaranya Perkumpulan Pemberantasan Perdagangan Perempuan dan Anak-anak (P4A) untuk didirikan 1929. Pendirian perkumpulan itu disebabkan oleh merajelanya perdagangan anak perempuan.

Kongres-kogres Perempuan Indonesia selanjutnya

Tak jauh berbeda pembahasan berbagai permasalahan perempuan 1928 Kongres Perempuan Selanjutnya tahun 1929, 1930, 1935. Kongres untuk kordinasi selanjutnya bernama Kongres Perikatan Perkumpulan Perempuan Indonesia.

Kongres Perempuan, Jakarta 28-31 Desember 1929

Permasalahan perkawinan khususnya poligami, kawin paksa dan perkawinan anak-anak juga menjadi topik yang dibahas tersendiri. Kongres memutuskan antara lain: meningkatkan nasib dan derajat perempuan Indonesia dengan tidak mengkaitkan diri dengan soal politik dan agama; mengajukan mosi kepada pemerintah untuk menghapuskan pergundikan.

Kongres sempat diwarnai ketegangan dan kepanitiaan hampir kacau karena Kongres hampir dilarang pemerintah. Hal itu terkait dengan situasi saat itu, yaitu Bung Karno ditangkap di Yogyakarta. Kantor dan tempat gedung pertemuan sempat digeledah polisi. Akhirnya Kongres tetap dijinkan dan berlangsung, di Gedung Thamrin di Gang Kenari Jakarta.

Kongres terbuka didukung juga massa rakyat yang memekikan, “yel-yel merdeka!”. Gedung tempat pelaksanaan Kongres menjadi menggelegar. Polisi mengawasi mengancam akan membubarkan. Salah seorang pemimpin sidang menyerahkan kendali situasi kepada Soejatin (Poetri Indonesia), ketua pelaksana Kongres Perempuan Pertama 1928. Sambutan demi sambutan diakhiri dengan pekikan “Merdeka, Sekarang!” Maka ruangan kembali riuh. Ketika polisi akan membubarkan, Soejatin mengetuk palu rapat selesai dan ditutup, rapat selanjutnya dilakukan tertutup.

Kongres menyatakan keprihatinannya dengan penangkapan Sukarno dengan membatalkan rencana akan mengadakan pameran dan malam penutupan.

Kongres Perikatan Perkumpulan Istri Indonesia, Surabaya 13-18 Desember 1930,

Ketua Kongres Ny. Siti Soedari Soedirman. Keputusan Kongres yang sangat relevan dengan kekinian antara lain mendirikan Badan Pemberantasan Perdagangan Perempuan dan Anak-anak (BPPPA) yang diketuai oleh Ny. Sunarjati Sukemi. Terbentuknya BPPPA disebabkan keprihatinan yang mendalam atas nasib yang menimpa anak-anak peremepuan yang terkena praktek JERATAN UTANG Cina Mindering, yaitu petani meminjam uang dengan bunga sangat tinggi dan tidak dapat mengembalikannya, sehingga sering anak gadis petani dijadikan penebus hutang-hutang itu. Kongres juga mengangkat isu buruh perempuan, khususnya nasib buruh pabrik batik di Lasem, dan memberikan penyuluhan peningkatan kesadaran bagi pembatik.

Kongres Perempuan Indonesia, Jakarta 20-24 Juli 1935

Kongres Perempuan Indonesia tahun 1935 diikuti tidak kurang dari 15 organisasi, di antaranya Wanita Katolik Indonesia, Poetri Indonesia, Poetri Boedi Sedjati, Aijsiah, Istri Sedar, Wanita Taman Siswa dsb. Ketua Kongres Ny. Sri Mangunsarkoro. Keputusan Kongres antara lain: Kongres memutuskan: mendirikan Badan Penyelidikan Perburuhan Perempuan yang berfungsi meneliti pekerjaan yang dilakukan perempuan Indonesia; meningkatkan pemberantasan buta huruf; mengadakan hubungan dengan perkumpulan pemuda, khususnya organisasi putri; mendasari perasaan kebangsaan, pekerjaan sosial dan kenetralan pada agama; Perempuan Indonesia berkewajiban berusaha supaya generasi baru sadar akan kewajiban kebangsaan: ia berkewajiban menjadi “Ibu Bangsa”.

Kongres Perempuan Indonesia, Bandung, Juli 1938

Kongres dikuti: Poetri Indonesia, Poetri Boedi Sedjati, Wanito Tomo, Aisjiah, Wanita Katolik dan Wanita Taman Siswa. Ketua Kongres Ny. Emma Puradiredja. Isu dibahas antara lain, partisipasi perempuan dalam politik, khususnya mengenai hak dipilih. Pemerintah kolonial memberikan hak dipilih bagi perempuan untuk Badan Perwakilan. Perempuan yang menjadi anggota Dewan Kota (Gementeraad): Ny. Emma Puradiredja, Ny. Sri Umiyati, Ny. Soenarjo Mangunpuspito dan Ny. Sitti Soendari. Karena perempuan belum mempunyai hak pilih, maka Kongres menuntut perempuan punya hak memilih.

Kongres memutuskan: tanggal 22 Desember diperingati sebagai “Hari Ibu” dengan arti seperti yang dimaksud dalam keputusan Kongres tahun 1935; membangun Komisi Perkawinan untuk merancang peraturan perkawinan yang seadil-adilnya tanpa menyinggung pihak yang beragama Islam.




Daftar Kepustakaan

Hardi, Lasmidjah, ed. 1981. Sumbangsihku Bagi Ibu Pertiwi (Kumpulan Pengalaman dan Pemikiran), Buku I. Jakarta: Yayasan Wanita Pejuang.

Hardi, Lasmidjah, ed. 1985. Sumbangsihku Bagi Ibu Pertiwi (Kumpulan Pengalam dan Pemikiran), Buku V. Jakarta: Yayasan Wanita Pejuang.

Suwondo, Nani, S.H. 1968. Kedudukan Wanita Indonesia dalam Hukum dan Masyarakat. Jakarta: Timun Mas.

Siaran Perwari, Tahun I No.3 Desember 1950

(@Umi Lasmina, 22 Desember 2006)

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