Nadine Kirana, Journalist

As the younger generation we must know someone who means a lot to us today, one of them is this woman. Raden Adjeng Kartini, also known as Raden Ayu Kartini, was a prominent Indonesian activist who advocated for women’s rights and female education.



                                                                                  Portrait of Raiden Adjeng Kartini


Kartini was born into an aristocratic Javanese family when Java was part of the Dutch colony on the Dutch East azIndies. Kartini was the fifth child and second eldest daughter in a family of eleven, including half siblings. Kartini’s family allowed her to attend school until she was 12 years old, among other subjects, she learned Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women at the time. After she turned 12 she was secluded at home, which was a common practice among young female Javanese nobles, ro prepare them for wedlock. During seclusion, girls were not allowed to leave their parent’s house until they were married, after which the authority over them was transferred to their husbands. Kartini’s father was more lenient than some during his daughter’s seclusion, during her seclusion, Kartini continued to self educate herself. She was fluent in Dutch and acquired several Dutch pen pals. One of which was a girl named Rosa Abendanon, who later became a close friend,


                                                          Letter by Kartini to Rosa Abendanon (fragment)


Kartini’s parents arranged her marriage to Joyodiningrat, the Regent of Rembang, who had already married three wives. She was wed on 12 November 1903. She detested the marriage proposal at first, but her husband understood Kartini’s aspirations and allowed her to establish a women’s school on the eastern porch of Rembang’s Regency Office complex. Kartini’s only child was born on September 13, 1904. A few days later on 17 September 1904, Kartini died at the age 25. After her death, her sisters continued her advocacy of educating girls and women. Kartini’s letters were published in a Dutch magazine and eventually, in 1911, as the works Out of Darkness to Light, Women’s Life in the Village  and Letters of a Javanese Princess. Her birthday is now celebrated in Indonesia as Kartini Day in her honor. Something that we can learn  from her is to make an impact, we don’t need dramatic gestures on big scales. We can make an impact with what is already in us. Our thoughts, our talents, our skills, whatever we need to make an impact is already inside of us.