The 21st of April is celebrated as Kartini Day in Indonesia. You cannot miss it if you are in Indonesia. You switch on the TV, read a newspapers or a mag, pass by a billboard, go to a shopping center, and you bound to hear “to commemorate Kartini’s legacy..”. To those who observe the day, happy Kartini day to you.
But with all due respect to you and to Ibu Kartini herself, I always wonder about two things (1) how many of us really know the history behind this Kartini Day, and (2) what makes Kartini so special. Why is there Kartini Day but not, for instance, Tjut Nyak Dien Day?
I suppose I should not be so hung up on this. What is more important is the spirit to empower women and to support gender mainstreaming (Speak the lingo, guys). And this is my impression of the day.
I went to a Femina’s seminar on franchising for women today. I was so amazed by the number of people (or rather, women) turned up at the event. So many. And they looked determined as well.
In the morning session, there were two speakers (all male btw). Amir Karamoy and Rhenald Khasali. Pak Amir, to me, spoke more straight to the point. He sticked to the theme of the day: franchising, while Pak Rhenald, absorbing as he was as a public speaker, was talking about more general things (and more relevant to his new book).
It was refreshing to me to learn that during the Q&A session, much more questions were directed to Pak Amir. Participants wanted to know about franchising. It showed determination. It showed single mindedness. I was so proud, somehow.
On another but related topic, this morning’s Kompas also featured a female becak driver Ibu Aminah. She has been doing this for five years to support her family of 10 children. Ten children. That’s another subject. But Ibu Aminah is a real hero to me.
All in all, the very fact that we are still celebrating Kartini Day, however, implies that there is something to fight for still. As with the very fact there is a minimum quota for women in the Indonesian parliament. Or a state minister for women empowerment. Or poligamy. Or domestic violence. Or husbands that do not want to have anything to do with domestic chores. Or people saying “must be the mother” when a child goes astray. etc. Long way to go.
Happy Kartini day to all. And happy Kartika to you, han & your fam 😉