Monday, April 20, 2009


“Ibu kita Kartini putri sejati, putri indonesia harum namanya...” I still remember this lyric when elementary school.Today is Kartini’s Day. All Indonesian people always remember this special day.
Who is Kartini?
Raden Ajeng (Adjeng) Kartini or, more accurately, Raden Ayu (Ajoe) Kartini, (April 21, 1879–September 17, 1904), was a prominentJavanese and anIndonesian heroine. Kartini is known as a pioneer in the area of woman’s right for native Indonesians. Kartini was born into an aristocratic Javanese family in a time when Java was still part of the Dutch colony, the Dutch East Indies. Kartini's father, Raden Mas Sosroningrat, became Regency Chief of Jepara, and her mother was Raden Mas' first wife, but not the most important one. At this time, polygamy was a common practice among the nobility.
Kartini was the fifth child and eldest daughter in a family of eleven, including half siblings. She was born into a family with a strong intellectual tradition. Her grandfather, Pangeran Ario Tjondronegoro IV, became a Regency Chief at the age of 25 while Kartini's older brother Sosrokartono was an accomplished linguist.
Kartini's family allowed her to attend school until she was 12 years old. Here, among other subjects, she learnt to speak fluent Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women at the time. After she turned 12 she was 'secluded' at home, a common practice among Javanese nobility, to prepare young girls for their marriage. During seclusion girls were was not allowed to leave their parents' house until they were married, at which point authority over them was transferred to their husbands. Kartini's father was more lenient than some during his daughter's seclusion, giving her such privileges as embroidery lessons and occasional appearances in public for special events.
During her seclusion, Kartini continued to educate herself on her own. Because Kartini could speak Dutch, she acquired several Dutch pen friends. One of them, a girl by the name of Rosa Abandenon, became her very close friend. Books, newspapers and European magazines fed Kartini's interest inEuropean feminist thinking, and fostered the desire to improve the conditions of indigenous women, who at that time had a very low social status.
Kartini's concerns were not just in the area of the emancipation of women, but also the problems of her society. Kartini saw that the struggle for women to obtain their freedom, autonomy and legal equality was just part of a wider movement.
Kartini's parents arranged her marriage to Raden Adipati Joyodiningrat, the Regency Chief of Rembang, who already had three wives. She was married on the 12 November 1903. This was against Kartini's wishes, but she acquiesced to appease her ailing father. Her husband understood Kartini's aims and allowed her to establish a school for women in the east porch of the Rembang Regency Office complex. Kartini's only son was born on September 13, 1904. A few days later on September 17, 1904, Kartini died at the age of 25. She was buried in Bulu Village, Rembang.
In 1964, President Sukarno declared Kartini's birth date, 21 April, as 'Kartini Day' - an Indonesian National Holiday. This decision has been criticised. It has been proposed that Kartini's Day should be celebrated in conjunction with Indonesian Mothers Day, on 22 December so that the choice of Kartini as a national heroine would not overshadow other women who, unlike Kartini, took up arms to oppose the colonisers.
In contrast, those who recognise the significance of Kartini argue that not only was she a feminist who elevated the status of women in Indonesia, she was also a nationalist figure, with new ideas who struggled on behalf of her people, including her in the national struggle for independence.

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