April 21st, 2020
Kartini Day (“Hari Kartini”) is an Indonesian national holiday commemorating Raden Ajeng Kartini, a national heroine and a pioneer for the emancipation and empowerment of Indonesian women. Kartini Day pays homage to Ibu Kartini’s birth on the 21st of April, 1879 and celebrates her as a key figure in the nation’s history. Born into a Javanese noble family in the former Dutch East Indies, Kartini attended a Dutch language primary school and was thus exposed to western ideals at an early age. She aspired to further education but during that period, women’s access to higher education was restricted. This instilled in Kartini the desire to fight for women’s rights to education in Indonesia. Kartini eventually began a quest to highlight the plight of locals suffering under their Dutch masters as well as other challenges faced by Indonesian women. All across Indonesia on Kartini Day, female students and teachers dress in traditional kebaya, while male students and teachers dress in batik. Competitions including fashion shows, cooking competitions and floral arrangement competitions are often held. Even though she died in her prime at just 25 years old, Kartini is hailed as Indonesia’s first feminist. Her desire to see women freed from repressive laws and beliefs made her a heroine. Today in many parts of Indonesia female students outnumber males, including at the university level. Her legacy lives on today, and this day is testament to her resilience.