On Sunday May 8th this year, HOME held its annual Kartini Day celebration, combining Kartini Day, Labour Day and Mothers Day in one festive event at the Hollandse Club. If you were there, you must have marvelled at the women lounging around the hall, dressed in amazing batiks. All these women were Indonesian domestic workers, attending this holiday where Indonesia’s national hero and feminist Kartini is honoured.
All Indonesians know her: Raden Adjeng Kartini, or Lady Kartini. She was born in 1879 in Central Java. As her family was part of Javanese aristocracy, Kartini was lucky to be enrolled in a Dutch primary school, rare for a Javanese girl in those days. But at twelve, Kartini was secluded at home, deprived from further education in preparation of marriage. She started to correspond with Dutch friends, and became an important pioneer for women’s rights, particularly championing Indonesian girl’s education. Unfortunately Kartini died at a young age, in childbirth, but her spirit lives on: Kartini’s birthday is observed as a national holiday for all Indonesians, celebrating the life of this extraordinary woman as a mother to all.
What would Kartini have said if she lived today? Female emancipation has come a long way over the last hundred years, but Kartini’s work, unfortunately, is far from done. Migrant domestic workers still have fewer rights than other workers in Singapore, and are not covered by the employment act, which makes it difficult to protect them from abusive and exploitative employers. HOME fights for the justice as well as empowerment of these workers, it’s staff and volunteers, many of them domestic workers themselves, following in Kartini’s famous footsteps.
After that serious note, the speeches were over, and most of the day was one of celebration. There were musical performances, both contemporary and traditional, dance, singing, and to top it all; a fashion show giving us a modern take on Indonesian batik. The diversity showed us that batik, the traditional patterned Indonesian fabric, still has many uses today, from our very own Singapore girl, to elaborate ballroom dresses or much more practical daytime wear sarongs and kebaya’s. The women looked amazing, and the judges must have had a hard time choosing a winner from all the beauty paraded in front of them. In all categories, signing, dancing, creative writing and fashion, prizes were awarded to the most talented candidates. It was special to see these women, out of their standard uniform of shorts and T-shirt, showcasing that domestic workers have so much more to offer than plain cleaning, cooking and child-minding.
MyVoice congratulates all the winners on HOME Kartini Day
- Dwi Hartati
- Yessy bt Sopandi Wanda
- Haney Palupi
- Ameliya Wati
- Faridah Nasri
- Mei Ismayani
Creative Writing & Poem
- Nur Fadilah
- Sri Winarsih
Photography by Dina Sartiman
HOME likes to thank the HOME Kartini committee for organising the event, and the Hollandse Club for offering the venue.