About Kartini Day
On April 21st, women in Indonesia celebrate the birth of a national heroine. Raden Ayu Kartini continues to be remembered today as a critic of, among other injustices, a male-dominated society.
Kartini was born on 21 April 1879, in Jepara, Central Java, which was then part of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Despite being born into an aristocratic Javanese family, Kartini was not able to pursue formal education due to the prevailing social norms and restrictions on women’s education at that time. However, she was determined to gain knowledge and fought against these restrictions.
Kartini’s passion for education and women’s rights led her to correspond with and advocate for the empowerment of Indonesian women, both locally and internationally. Her letters, known as “Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang” (Out of Darkness Comes Light), written in Dutch, expressed her desire for gender equality and education for women. Her progressive ideas and efforts to promote women’s rights and education made her a prominent figure in the fight for women’s empowerment in Indonesia.
Through her letters, she questioned Javanese cultural traditions that limited the role of women to the domestic sphere. Her ambition led to the establishment of the first school for Pribumi (or native) women in the early 1900s, during the Dutch colonial period.
Around the world Kartini is recognised as a major figure in the history of the advancement of women: a tireless and effective advocate of women’s education and emancipation.
In 1964 she was elevated to the status of national hero by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. She has become one of the most well known Asian figures in the international women’s movement.
Kartini Day is celebrated across Indonesia as a tribute to Raden Ajeng Kartini’s contributions and legacy. The day is marked by various activities and events, including parades, cultural performances, exhibitions, and discussions on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Many schools and institutions also organize special programs to highlight Kartini’s achievements and promote women’s rights and education.