Book Launching / Event

Published: 15/05/2013

The Women Research Institute (WRI) launched its second edition of the Affirmation Journal, a journal on the findings of WRI’s newest research on women’s movement. The launching, which was held along with a seminar under a related theme, was held on 14 May 2013 in Jakarta. This journal analyzes forms of women’s power, from the ones in social movements to their social, cultural, and political implications at the individual level, family level, civil society group level, and the general public. Also part of the study were factors such as global and local economics and politics as well as the influence of ‘local extra’ and ‘local response’ on feminist leaderships on several women’s organizations in Jakarta, Lombok, Padang, North Sumatera and Lampung. This research aims to obtain an overview of the issues and challenges of women’s issues that are currently and will be faced by women’s organizations.



A study of female leadership, or more specifically about the aspect of “feminist leadership” in post-authoritarian Indonesia, has yet to be studied widely in the context of their roles in the process of a wider social transformation.


This research aims to present not only about women’s organizations and their works, but also a description of the suitable type of female leadership for women’s organizations in Indonesia. WRI chose five areas of research, namely Jakarta, Lampung, North Sumatra, Padang, and Lombok, which represent the efforts of women’s organizations in handling women’s issues around them.


Discussion Process

The event was commenced with an opening speech from Sita Aripurnami, Executive Director of WRI, who briefly explained that the second edition of Affirmation Journal was written based on the research on leadership and women’s organizations in five cities, namely Jakarta, Deli Serdang, Padang, Lampung, and Mataram. This project was funded by Hivos. The process of discussion was as follows:


Debra H Yatim/Moderator

The aim of this discussion is to discuss the findings of WRI’s research, which found that Indonesian women’s movements have not yet reached grass-root women’s movements. As a result, it gives an impression that women’s movements are stagnant.


Rocky Gerung
What we continually call as the struggle of women’s movement does not result in reality. Democracy is not able to provide justice in the distortion of women; this is part of theoretical criticism. Affirmative action is carried out merely to fulfill what we call as “representation”, which is demanded by the 21st century democracy theory.


Political movement, identity, and consciousness; all these are tools to show the objectives we can achieve by entering the democracy system. Women’s politics is another dimension of mainstreaming politics; it is thus very difficult to be realized operationally in grass-root women’s movements.

Chusnul Mar’iyah
The involvement of women in politics could also be seen from the perspective that the concept of democracy we adhere to is liberal, adopted from the West, without ever considering that the concept we use is single identity. It is very important to observe the pattern of the recruitment of women in politics. How could we improve our recruitment system if our leader is not even capable of demonstrating a recruitment that welcomes the involvement of women in politics?


Women’s struggle in the US needed 50 years for them to gain suffrage. Our condition is far better, as we do not need to be imprisoned like in the United States. The main indicator of being a citizen is being able to vote and be voted for in elections; but citizens are also under the obligation of paying taxes. Women’s movement in the US reached an extent where they refused to pay taxes because they do not have the rights as a citizen to vote and be voted for in elections. As a result, they were beckoned by the government, imprisoned, etc.


Indonesian people still believe that if there is one stupid woman then all women will be seen as stupid; on the contrary, when there is one stupid man, only he will be seen as stupid, whereas other men are not. In 1980s, Indonesian women’s movements have started to rise, although mostly limited to meeting practical needs, not strategic needs. 


Q&A Session

Ari Sunaryati
My field of work is concerned on labor, and there are many questions about politics: isn’t politics evil? Why are we being taught something evil? If the law regulates high school (secondary level) as the minimum level of education for DPR-RI members, then in high school students should be educated on politics and democracy so that they will be prepared if they ever get elected as DPR members. I suggest that the school curriculum in Indonesia be improved so that students will understand more about politics. From the economic sector, economic growth is very dependent on industries, like the local economy in society, and how to build the economy in the local community.


Rocky Gerung
Plato stated the concept of political animal, so above animals are political beings or men, who manage prosperity (justice). This was not introduced by political parties, so political party and DPR members feel that being involved in political parties is about how to be greedy, so even political parties do not teach ethics in politics. Politics is about reaching the highest level to think about people from every background.


Chusnul Mar’iyah
When we talk about education, it is not only about schools but also about domestic life, media, etc. I once participated in a curriculum revision for children, and there was never any female evaluator. The curriculum taught the concept that the place for women is in the kitchen and for men is in the public sector. Indonesia signed the liberalization of 12 sectors, including education, with WTO. The Law on Higher Education exists only to enable foreign involvement in the education system in Indonesia, due to the signing of WTO.


Marwah (Kowani)
With 87 members of women’s organizations, Kowani has achieved many advances in our program of political education for women. Our program includes television broadcasts to focus on defending (the rights of) women.


When we were kids, for instance, on Kartini’s Day, girls would be dressed up with kebaya and the like. The struggles of Ibu Kartini have gone beyond space and time by building equality between women and men that should’ve been taught since Prophet Muhammad SAW’s era. It is men who should be educated more on equality.


Rocky Gerung
Every time I explain something, I tend to explain the negative points to describe the weaknesses not the strengths in order to avoid being too narcissistic. Kowani, Mrs. Dewi Motik verbally stated, “What is 30% for, that is an insult for women. For instance, I can do it.” This shows that there is a historical lack of understanding on the determination of the number. We react too much, we react more than we contemplate.


Anindira, IPB Bogor
I got enlightened that women in this country are subject to loads of problems. I think, maybe all of that happened because (women are) victims of democracy? Is this democracy system worth it to be maintained? I am also interested in Ibu Chusnul’s statement about how the Islamic sharia views women. It seems like the Islamic sharia cannot be a solution for women’s problems in Indonesia, maybe because Indonesia has never been considered as an ideology. We also need to re-check on women’s understanding in accepting Islam as an ideology.


Rocky Gerung
Democracy forbids hierarchy; while on the contrary, religion without hierarchy would seem to lose its magical power. Religious hierarchy determines the political hierarchy; they are thus incompatible. Do we want to be a public community or exclusive community? Religion as an ideology is incontestable. All the postulates that couldn’t be challenged shouldn’t be revealed to the public. As an example, a Quranic verse on justice should be able to be re-written in the constitutional law in order to be understood by society. In my opinion, the verses from above are sacred, while we only need to discuss the constitutional verses on Earth.


Chusnul Mar’iyah
The interpretation of the Islamic sharia is only for women’s issues, so what about economy, military, and the government? Why isn’t it implemented as well in other social matters? It is because the objective is to place women within boundaries and limits.


Titi Sumbung
Since the establishment of our organization, our objective was to make women’s movement as a part of the democratic movement in Indonesia, but the democracy we meant is not the conceptual democracy. All this time, the strategy is wrong, because only women are being pressured to be educated or trained; while men should be changed too because the current issue is mindset, and currently only women are demanded to change their mindset, while men are not. Women no longer need to know a lot about change; women should be able to make that change. The equal relationship between men and women starts from the family not at DPR, and political education starts from the relationship and interaction pattern between men and women as husband and wife. Men are always suspicious that we want to compete with them, when all we want is to participate in various things that a woman can do which a man cannot.


Rocky Gerung
When it comes to rights, we can still depend on the legislation which still fights for that in democracy. But those who are intolerant can also enjoy the advantages. Thus the public sphere should not be controlled by a final doctrine (such as religion). Another example is that past experiences within citizens only recognize heterosexual relationships, so the obligation of the State was ensure that it could protect (the rights for) heterosexual relationships. Now that there are homosexual experiences, then the State should be able to ensure the rights of its unique citizens to perform their interaction safely.


Chusnul Mar’iyah
Never humiliate women’s movements when you don’t have the knowledge about politics. When you become a DPR member, you should know what you should do and what you will be doing. There are even DPR members who do not understand language, like the expression “illegitimate seats in the election.” They only could understand its ‘scary’ connotation when it was replaced with a religious terminology: “haram chair”. In DPR, a woman who wants to raise her hands during the meetings would be laughed at because she is considered as incompetent.


Debra Yatim
I greatly recommend you to read the second journal of Affirmation because it will give an understanding on feminist leadership in five regions in Indonesia.***