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Educational Rights for Women



Mitra wacana


By: Eviliana*

Education is very important to support many things, one of which is to support a career, both for men and women. However, of course, there are also some people who have success, despite not having a formal education. Having a solid career means having a solid economy. Both the results of doing business or work.

At present there are still a small number of people who think that education is “not so important” for women, because if a woman will eventually get married and become a wife, then women are given a living by their husbands. It is not considered normal that a woman will provide for their husbands. The term “in the end women will return to the kitchen” is used often, because, in reality, that is indeed difficult to dispute.

In addition to supporting careers, education also serves to improve mindsets, better relationships, and add insights that might be useful for themselves, family, friends, others, and especially for husbands when someday women become wives.

After becoming a wife, a woman will usually have children who will certainly be closer to her mother than the father. This is because most of the time a married woman spends is usually in the home, in order to care for the children.

Children ask many questions, about new things that they want to understand, and that provides an opportunity for a woman to use her education to pass on that knowledge to her child.

The role of women in society is important. After marrying, women are often a forgotten part of society, often considered someone at the service of her husband, or as someone to complete the housework. Her existence is often just related to the interests of her husband and children.

The role of a wife is simply a “life partner” of the husband, where a wife must be able to listen, understand and provide input on the work problems faced by her husband. This is because, most of the time, men are used to providing a living for their families. In my opinion, this is an important reason for a woman to receive education. That is one example of complementary family life. Conversely, the husband must also have comprehensive knowledge because as a wife’s life partner, he must not simply be a “messenger” or provider, but share a role in domestic matters.

Education does not necessarily mean formal education obtained at school, but can come from the environment, groups, women’s organizations, cadre and community meetings or in other forms. Every environment can be used as a means of education before marriage.

It is also possible for a woman to be active outside the home, such as through organizing things that benefit the family and the people around her. Although we have focused on the woman’s role, in carrying out one’s obligations as a wife and mother, this also applies to men or husbands, who have activities outside the home but must still carry out their obligations as a husband and share domestic roles.

* The writer is a student of UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta who had an internship at Mitra Wacana in 2016

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Are American and Indonesian Women Really So Different?



by Jacqueline Lydon – Volunteer internship Program Mitra Wacana

After growing up in the U.S., now living in Indonesia for about five months and interning at Mitra Wacana for three, I’ve been surprised at the similarities between conditions for women in the two countries.

On the surface level, women in the U.S. and Indonesia may seem like polar opposites. 

When comparing the two, people tend to focus on the behaviors and appearances of women. Women are judged for how they dress, how they act, and how independent they are, for example. 

Americans might judge Indonesian women for dressing conservatively, staying in the domestic sphere, and being seemingly submissive to their husbands. Meanwhile, Indonesians might judge American women for not covering their bodies, being too sexual, not focusing on domestic roles, or being too loud and demanding.

What I’ve noticed since being here is first, that these differences are less noticeable than I had thought, and second, that they seem to stem from differences in cultures and societal norms. There are different ways of understanding gender and gender roles, yet women in both America and Indonesia want safety, respect, and to have a voice.

There are many similarities between women’s behaviors and struggles in the two countries.

  • 51.9% of Indonesian women are in the workforce, compared to 57.1% of U.S. women
  • 17.4% of the Indonesian parliament is female, compared to 23.9% of the U.S. legislature
  • The first Indonesian woman was elected president in 2001, while a woman has never yet been president in the U.S.
  • The first female supreme court justice in Indonesia, Sri Widoyati Wiratmo Soekito, was inaugurated in 1968, while the first woman to join the U.S. supreme court was Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981, about 15 years later.

There are many issues – from sexual harassment to rape – that have a widespread impact on women in both countries, but it’s hard to have accurate statistics because many women do not or can not report these incidents.  But based on what is reported, it’s clear that these are major issues in both countries. 

  • 3 out of 5 Indonesian woman and 81% of American women have experienced sexual harassment
  • 15% of Indonesian women and more than 1 in 3 American women report being a victim of sexual violence 
  • 16% of Indonesan women and about 25% of women in the U.S. have reported being a victim of intimate partner violence (physical, sexual, or psychological violence from a partner or spouse)

With two countries in which women’s attitudes and behaviors seem so different, it’s surprising how similar women’s successes and struggles are. 

 Just last year, a poll in the U.S. found that only 29% of American women identify as feminists. (Feminist: someone who believes men and women should have equal rights.) In both countries, there are both feminist movements and anti-feminist movements (In the U.S., “meninism”; in Indonesia, “Indonesia tanpa feminisme”). In both, women’s voices are suppressed; women who advocate for themselves are often seen as too demanding, and their problems are ignored.

Why is there so much judgement for women’s choices in both countries?

Part of this is based on stereotypes, which are continually built up about women who act differently. Women in each country are taught that their culture’s roles, behaviors, and values are the better choice, and if only they stick to that, they will avoid the problems faced by women in different cultures. For example, women in the U.S. are taught that being more assertive will help them achieve more political representation, and women in Indonesia are taught that behaving modestly will help them avoid sexual violence or harassment. Yet the similarities in statistics prove that it is not the behaviors of women that cause these problems, and neither culture’s prescriptions for women will solve the issues.

Of course, there is not one simple answer for these systemic issues.  But, the main culprit of sexism around the globe is the patriarchy – the system that has been constructed to empower men and subjugate women. It is this system that has created this notion of victim blaming – to judge and blame women for their own oppression instead of the overarching system.  

Instead of looking at the choices of women or judging them, we should look at the system of patriarchy that is prevalent in both countries. 

I think we need to stop focusing on the behavior of women and instead focus on the way that society judges and oppresses all women, and then build solidarity to break down those systems. The ideal of how a woman should be and should act may be different in both cultures, but it is universal that women should be free from violence and treated with dignity and respect.

Editor: Arif Sugeng W



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