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Raffles Bali - R.A Kartini: Pioneering Women’s Rights and Education in Colonial Indonesia
April 25th 2023

R.A Kartini: Pioneering Women’s Rights and Education in Colonial Indonesia

Raden Ajeng Kartini, also known as R.A Kartini, is one of the most revered heroines in Indonesia. Born in 1879 in Jepara, Central Java, Kartini was a Javanese noblewoman who dedicated her life to advocating for women’s rights and education. She is considered a pioneer in the women’s rights movement in Indonesia and is remembered as a symbol of progress and emancipation.

Growing up, Kartini was not allowed to receive formal education, as it was not customary for girls of her status to attend school. Despite this, she was determined to learn and educate herself. She spent much of her childhood reading books and teaching herself languages, such as Dutch, which was the official language of the Dutch East Indies at the time. She also corresponded with several prominent Dutch feminists, who shared her beliefs in the importance of education for women.

Kartini’s passion for education and women’s rights was fueled by her own experiences and observations of the limitations placed on women in Javanese society. She saw how women were expected to stay at home, marry young, and devote their lives to domestic duties, with little opportunity for personal growth or self-expression. This inspired her to fight for change and challenge the patriarchal norms of her society.

In 1903, Kartini founded a school for Javanese girls, which aimed to provide them with education and skills that would enable them to pursue careers and lead independent lives. The school, which she called “Sekolah Kartini,” was a groundbreaking initiative that paved the way for the education of women in Indonesia. Through her work, Kartini became a role model and inspiration for women throughout the country.

Tragically, Kartini’s life was cut short at the age of 25, due to complications from childbirth. However, her legacy lived on through her writings, which were compiled and published after her death in a book titled “Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang” (Out of Darkness Comes Light). The book contained a collection of her letters, which provided a window into her thoughts, beliefs, and struggles as a woman in colonial Java.

Kartini’s ideas and vision for women’s empowerment and education continue to inspire Indonesians to this day. She is celebrated every year on Kartini Day, a national holiday in Indonesia that commemorates her contributions to the country’s women’s rights movement. Her legacy is a testament to the power of determination, passion, and perseverance in the face of adversity, and serves as a reminder that progress and change are possible, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Raden Ajeng Kartini’s efforts to improve women’s rights and education in Indonesia have left a lasting impact. Her legacy has inspired many to fight for equality.

Raffles Singapore created a special drink for women in 1915 called the “Singapore Sling.” At that time, women were not allowed to drink alcohol in public, so the bartender made a pink cocktail that looked like fruit juice but contained gin and liqueurs. This way, women could enjoy a drink in public without breaking any rules. Today, every Raffles hotel has a special signature cocktail, such as the Bali Sling at Raffles Bali.