The Brief History of Women’s Rights in Indonesia

Indonesian Women Rights  is a right owned by a woman because she is a human being and as a woman. The human right of women as a human right is nothing new, and looks increasingly stronger demands from time to time.

The victims of human rights violations began to claim their rights and seek guarantees for their rights. And finally they got it. In Indonesia, Women’s right was not easily developed. It was full of struggle to get the agreement from the government for the women right. Here was the history of Women’s Right in Indonesia begun.

  1. Women’s Struggle

Gender equality and justice was a global issue that draws the world’s attention, especially after the end of the cold war between the Eastern Block and the Western Block.

The change is in line with the shift of development paradigm from security approach and security to prosperity or from production centered development to people centered development in a more democratic and open atmosphere.

A tendency that needs to be understood, scrutinized, and anticipated so as not to be easily carried away a stream that is inconsistent with the Indonesian society’s view of life or is contrary to human beliefs and human nature.

Humans created in pairs need presence and cooperation with each other. The integration of two parts that are not the same as partnership and harmony is the basic principle of something created in pair.

The issue of gender is essentially the principle, although in reality seeing discrimination, marginalization, subordination, double burden, and violence from one party (male) to another (women) both inside and outside the household life.

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  1. The period of Koncowingking (Following Husband)

This period should be referred to as the period of destruction of the Indonesian women’s movements. It became the starting point through the destruction of Gerwani (Indonesian Women’s Movement) through a mass media campaign from October 10, 1965 until October 12, 1965. Through the Army’s military newspaper, Berita Yudha, the killer of the seven generals at Lubang Buaya is Gerwani.

The activist of this women’s organization was accused of killing the generals in a heinous manner, by gouging out his eyes and wiping out his genitals. The campaign has been dismantled by a Dutch researcher, Saskia Wieringa (1995) as a mere lie.

However, Gerwani as a mass organization of women that has been muzzled by the New Order regime and its activists were subsequently arrested, thrown away or killed since then until 1968.

  1. The literate of nationalism for women

In Soempah Pemoeda, October 28, 1928, a female activist, Siti Soendari (a journalist and founder of Swara Pacitan bulletin), had the opportunity to address the Congress of Soempah Pemoeda. Two months after this important event, women’s organizations in the Indies (“Indonesia”) organized the First Women’s Congress on December 22, 1928 in Yogyakarta.

The central theme of the discussion at the time was to consolidate women’s special struggle in the larger struggle of liberating Indonesia. Although not leaving a special agenda to fight for “women’s rights” in marriage (against early marriage, divorce and polygamy) to become the policy of the colonial government.

The issue of women’s suffrage of indigenous women as members of the City Council became the agenda for discussion at the third Women’s Congress in Bandung in July 1938. The decision of Congress resulted in a mandate to fight for the Right to Vote for indigenous women as a move for the struggle of women’s movement in those days.

However the policy of Chosen Rights for new indigenous women was granted by the colonial government one night when the Pacific War took place, in 1942.

The tendency of struggle in this periodization is the women’s movement to include the agenda of “women’s right” to become the policy of the colonial state. The domestic affairs of women (examples of marriage and divorce) are transformed by the women’s movement into a public agenda-state, which continues until independence in Indonesia.

  1. The school for women was established

The starting point takes the 1900s, as the year marked by a new round of commonly called Dutch “colonial” ethical policies as well as the presence of an organized nationalist movement in Indonesia, inseparable from the women’s movement.

The new century marks the beginning of Asian nationalism. The prominent Dutch “ethical” policy is the opening of a modern school for women. If we look, the opening of this school of women is in a city that is central to the industrialization of colonial estates.

The founder of a girls’ school was a women’s activist from the priyayi and colonial bureaucratic officials, but later obtained permission from the Dutch government to organize the education.

For example in Minahasa, the women’s school was built in Tomohon city – a colonial educational and religious center surrounded by a very fertile clove plantation. In Sumatra, the women’s school was built in Bukittinggi, surrounded by colonial plantations.

In Medan, a protestant church is also known to build schools for women, where we know the very famous Deli plantations. In Java, women’s schools in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Salatiga, Surabaya, Malang, are municipalities collected from colonial plantations.

  1. The born of Komnas Perempuan

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) is an independent state institution for the upholding of women’s human rights in Indonesia. This institution was established through Presidential Decree No. 181 of 1998, on October 9, 1998, reinforced by Presidential Regulation No. 65 of 2005.

Komnas Perempuan was born out due to the demands of civil society, especially women. They ask for the government to realize the responsibility of the state in responding and dealing with the issue of violence against women.

The claim is rooted in the tragedy of sexual violence, especially experienced by ethnic Chinese women in the May 1998 riots in various major cities in Indonesia.

Komnas Perempuan grew into one of the National Human Rights Institutions (LNHAM), in accordance with the general criteria developed in The Paris Principles. The active participation of Komnas Perempuan has made this institution as a model for various parties in developing and strengthening human rights mechanisms to promote efforts to eliminate violence against women at local, national, regional and international levels.

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  1. Women in Development

On 12 July 1963 a global movement spearheaded the women’s movement which successfully declared a resolution through the UN Social Economic Agency (ECOSOC) No.861F (XXVI), and  accommodated the Indonesian government in 1968.In 1975 Mexico City held the World Conference of the International Year of Women-United Nations that produced a declaration of equality between men and women in:

  • Education and employment
  • Prioritizing development for women
  • Expanding women’s participation in development
  • Available data and information on women’s participation
  • Execution of role difference analysis by sex

To that end developed various programs for the empowerment of women (women empowerment programs). In order to accommodate these activities, we introduce the theme of women in development (WID). Indonesia comes as one of the country that participate that congress.

After the long journey above, the women’s right in Indonesia finally could be enforced. The women in Indonesia now could have the same chance in working with the men Indonesia (apart from their status as a wife). They could live and develop as they want. Whether they would be a mother or carrier women, all about is just their options.