Kartini Day–April 21st

Kartini Day or “Hari Ibu Kartini” is an Indonesian holiday commemorating the birth of Raden Ajeng Kartini, one of the country’s national heroes and a pioneer in the emancipation of Indonesian women.

She was the first Indonesian feminist and is considered a national heroine of Indonesia. Kartini was born on April 21, 1879., into an aristocratic Javanese family with a strong intellectual tradition. At the time, Java was ruled by the Dutch colonial administration. Her father allowed her to attend school, where she learned to speak Dutch. At the age of 12, however, she had to leave school because she was of noble adscent, but she continued to read books to learn as much as she could.

While reading Dutch newspapers, she be- came interested in the issues of emanci- pation of women and other problems of Indonesian society. She view the feminist movement as a part of wider sociopolitical movement. In 1903, she had to enter into an arranged marriage, but her husband was an understanding man and helped her establish a school for women. She began a fight for the right of women to be educated and against the unwritten but all-pervading Javanese law – Adat .

She died in 1904 at the age of 25, after the birth of her first child. Her letters were published in 1911. under the title, Door duisternis tot licht (“Through Darkness into Light”), and created support for the Kartini Foundation, which opened the first girls’ school in Java in 1916.

Throughout Indonesia women wear their na- tional dress to symbolize their unity, and the nation enjoys parades, lectures, and various school activities. Kartini Day was established in 1964 by Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia.■

Bali Pocket Magazine