Kartini and Today’s Women Emancipation

, (Mening Lestari )

“Never give up if you still want to try. Don’t let regrets come because you are one step away from winning. “

That is one of the excerpts from the book Door Duisternis tot Licht or better known as the Out of Darkness Comes Light (Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang). This book is a collection of Raden Ajeng Kartini’s letters to her friends, which contain concerns about feudalism and the condition of women at that time.

At that time, Kartini was forced to stop continuing her education. Besides, some traditions and customs restrict women from developing themself. Of course, many women could get the privilege of getting education and self-actualization today.

So, can now the struggle for women stop? Although we have seen progress driven by women, we cannot deny that women are not yet equal. There are still many women who experience discrimination in terms of education, leadership, marriage, and economic empowerment. Women are also still fighting for a safe public space for them to do their activities and speak up their minds.

Even now, Kartini’s figure of female emancipation through her writing has experienced a slight shift. It doesn’t mean that Kartini’s history is forgotten, it’s just many people said that the meaning of Kartini’s Day celebration is not that strong. Celebration of Kartini Day with a parade of traditional clothes and cooking competitions is not wrong. But, have you ever discussed more deeply Kartini’s ideas at this point?

Current perspectives on Kartini 

We cite the interview with the historian of the University of Deakin, namely Joost J. Coté. He stated that Kartini’s figure was not appreciated enough because, since the government of the second president of Indonesia, she was emphasized as a woman who played the role of mother and wife. The author of Kartini: The Complete Writings also stated that Kartini was a nationalist who had a vision of the nation in her letters even before the concept of Indonesia was invented.

People’s insights towards Kartini at this time are also shown from the use of Kartini’s name in metonymy written in the article. For those of you who don’t know, metonymy is the use of a word to replace another word that is closely related to the substitute word. According to Adam et al. (2021), the use of the word Kartini in most political articles is only based on gender similarity. The elements of women’s emancipation and gender equality in Kartini must also be considered in writing metonymy.

Even so, hopes to fight for women’s emancipation cannot just subside. There are still women who fight for it and grow into great people. They also have a message for us about the struggle for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Messages from today’s great women 

Susi Pudjiastuti (Entrepreneur)

Who doesn’t know Susi Pudjiastuti? She is the owner of a fishery export and aviation company. Not only that, but he is also the seventh-period former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia.

As reported by Antara News, she advised Indonesian women to free themselves from the limitations of their thoughts as women. She said, “the idea that should be planted in yourself is what benefit can be given to many people as a woman, don’t think about what can’t be done, it’ll make you can’t be anything”.

Maudy Ayunda (Actress and Singer)

Let’s move on to a figure who is qualified in the field of art, Maudy Ayunda. She expressed her opinion on women’s empowerment. Quoted from, the singer of the song Perahu Kertas stated the importance of this.

“Because the world sometimes moves, we have to stand for our self to believe thing more than that and we as women have to remind each other because sometimes the world and all of this pressure, all of these expectations are bigger than we are, it is very easy for us to be carried away and credulous. Because there are currents that we must fight together,” said the woman who graduated from both Oxford and Stanford Universities.

Najwa Shihab (Presenter)

Last but not least, we also quote a short message from Najwa Shihab during the interview with “We change, if we stop, yes we are done. We have to dare to do something. Don’t be afraid to stumble because you will be formed,” said Najwa.

Celebrating Kartini’s Day is not just a physical celebration, but also an appreciation of Kartini’s thoughts and vision for the generation of Indonesian women. Don’t hesitate to show the best version of yourself and keep fighting for the emancipation of women.


Adam, M., S. Hafsah, Wahyuni. 2021. Kartini and Srikandi: representation of women in Indonesian political discourse through metonymy. Journal of Language and Literature. 21(1): 148 – 159.

Asmarani, D. 2013. Kartini the forgotten nationalist. Magdalene. [accessed on March 17 2021].

Beribe, B.S. 2018. Apa pendapat Maudy Ayunda tentang women empowerment. Akurat. [accessed on March 17 2021].

Dianawati, V. 2018. Najwa Shihab ajak perempuan ubah kebiasaan untuk dapat kesetaraan. Fimela. [accessed on March 17 2021].

Kartini, R. A. 2005. Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang. Penerjemah Pane A. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka.

Rahman, M. R. 2019. Perempuan Indonesia ini pesan Susi Pudjiastuti untuk anda sekalian. [accessed on March 17 2021].

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