I remember when I was in primary school. It was to be Kartini Day in a week’s time and all the kids were told that we must wear something traditional. The girls were told to wear kebaya.
“Just like Kartini!” my teacher said.
On another occasion, I was told off for playing the drum in the music room because “drums are for boys”.
Ironic isn’t it? Everyone remembers Kartini Day every single year without fail. Lots of women put on their kebaya to school, to work, to show the spirit of Kartini. However, have we downsized the spirit of Kartini to just “dressing up as her”? Have we really forgotten what she fought for? Do we actually know WHY we celebrate Kartini Day?
Every Kartini Day I wonder, what would happen if Kartini didn’t fight for our rights? What if she just took her privilege and enjoyed her life without a care in the world?
Whenever Kartini Day arrives and I hear children being obligated to wear kebaya by their teachers, I get really frustrated. She fought for our rights so we can have freedom, not to be bounded by rules!
Women’s rights in Indonesia still has a long way to go. Let’s not get blindsided by the dress up, but rather take Kartini Day as a reminder that there is still a long way to go for women in Indonesia to achieve what Kartini had in mind. We celebrate Kartini Day, so that we can continue what she started. So let’s put on our kebaya/trousers/dress/jumpsuit/whatever you want and do that for her, for our country, for Indonesian women.