Public Discussion: “Quo Vadis Indonesia’s Women’s Movement?”

Hari Perempuan SeduniaTen days before the performance in Jakarta, on February 29, in the Galeri Cipta III room at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta, Institut Ungu and Yayasan Pitaloka organized a public forum with the theme “Quo Vadis Indonesia’s Women’s Movement?”. This discussion helped start the 2008 events discussing IWD and the reflections upon the state of the women’s movement ten years into the Reformasi period.

IWD marks an important development in the struggle by women for progress in their situation. On March 8, 100 years ago in New York, thousands of women factory workers came out onto the streets to demand decent wages, shorter working hours and the right to vote. Two years later in 1910 at a meeting if the International Socialist Gathering in Copenhagen, March 8 was declared International Women’s Day. What about in Indonesia?

Tati Krisnawaty, one of the speakers at this forum, explained that Indonesian Minister for Women’s Affairs explicitly refused to commemorate this day because of its connection with the international socialist movement. Tati went on to add that building a women’s movement in Indonesia during the 1990s meant awakening a political awareness about the position of women and then starting a systematic resistance, all the time under the shadow of state violence and facing apathy from the comfortable sections of society.

Another speaker, Mariana Amirudin, director of the Women’s’ Journal Foundation, spoke about women and culture. She said that women were in confrontation with culture, because of the repressive nature of the culture that existed. She stated that this culture stood in confrontation with the ideas of the global women’s movement: ideas of equality, solidarity and justuice between men and women.
The forum was chaired by Tommy F. Awuy and was attended by more than 100 people.