In the midst of her busy schedule teaching at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia, Melani Budianta still finds time to dedicate herself to women’s issues. Melani began to be actively involved in women’s movements when the critical political situation reached its peak in 1998. It all started with a demonstration demanding the decrease of high price of milk which was organized by women, because people could not afford to buy milk. This movement developed further and became a medium to speak out about injustice. The group was named The Voices of Concerned Mothers, where Melani was one of the founders. The movement of these mothers which were supported by women’s group as well as students inspired Melani and she wrote about it in the article, “The Blessed Tragedy: The Making of Women’s Activism during the Reformasi Years (1998-1999)” which was published in the book, “In Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: Comparing Malaysia and Indonesia”, 2003.

Although literature is her expertise (she attained her Doctor’s degree in English literature from Cornell University, The United States in 1992), many of her writings are related to women’s issues. An example of this is her paper which was presented in the ARENA Congress in Malaysia, 2003, entitled: “Celebrating Yayori: Women’s Response to Globalization of war and capital.” Another paper of hers was presented at an international meeting in Okinawa, Japan in 2000, entitled “Women’s Response to Militaristic Security; The Case of Aceh Women.” Her interest in women’s issues brought her to establish the Women Research Institute (WRI), a research institute founded on the perspective of gender, in 2002. ***