Celebrating Kartini Day With Letters By the Heroine

Activists, academics and artists, as well as students and people from other walks of life will today read Kartini’s letters to remember her ideas that inspired the women’s emancipation movement in Indonesia.

Born on April 21, 1879, Raden Ajeng Kartini was a women’s rights pioneer during the Dutch colonial period and an inspiration for women after independence.

In 1964, she was declared an Indonesian national heroine by President Sukarno and her birthday was subsequently named Kartini Day, which is celebrated annually by Indonesian women.

“We read her letters to remind Indonesia that Kartini Day is not about women and girls wearing kebaya and batik with elaborate hairstyles, supposedly replicating Kartini’s attire,” Okky Madasari, an award-winning novelist and one of the initiators of the event, said on Wednesday.

“It’s about remembering her ideas and what she fought for.”

Okky, the founder of the Muara Foundation, and Faiza Mardzoeki, director of the Purple Institute, joined Kopdar Budaya, a social media community, and the Ardhanary Institute to hold the event to attract more Indonesians to read Kartini’s letters.

Actresses Ratna Riantiarno and Jajang C. Noer will be among the prominent women selected to read out the letters at the event.