Now Reading: The Movie ‘Kartini’: Who Is She and Why Indonesian Women Should Watch It?


The Movie ‘Kartini’: Who Is She and Why Indonesian Women Should Watch It?

March 29, 20176 min read

The date 19th of April 2017 is a released date for ‘Kartini’, an Indonesian movie about a woman named R.A. Kartini, a daughter from a noble family. But, who is she and why Indonesian women should watch it?

Who is Kartini?

The date 21st of April always on the back of every Indonesian women’s mind. The date brought them back to the year of 1879 when a powerful woman named Raden Adjeng Kartini was born in a district called Jepara in East Java, Indonesia. She is an Indonesian national hero because of her desire to fight for women’s education and she is the first one to fight for it.

As stated, she was born on 21st of April 1879 in Jepara to a noble family. Her father is a regent in Jepara back then and her mother is a daughter of a religion teacher in that area. As a daughter from that kind of family, people expect a lot from her.

As an Indonesian woman who lived in the 19th century, live is a cruel thing. Women aren’t allowed to go to school, get forced to get married to a stranger, and for a woman from a noble family like her, there was a tradition called ‘dipingit‘ or seclusion where she cannot go outside her house after she was 12 years old.

Even thought she could not go anywhere and had no permission to go to school, she still had the desire to learn about the world. She started to read books and magazines that her father gave her and keeping up with some of her friends from Netherland. From the letters that they sent back and forth, Kartini developed the desire to fight for women’s rights, especially the rights of education that women in Indonesia, back then, didn’t get. She learned about women’s right and politics, and open her own eyes to the outside world just by two things, the letters from her friends in Netherland and books.

When she was 24 years old, she accepted a marriage proposal that arranged by her father and married to the regent of Rembang named K.R.M. Adipati Ario Singgih Djojo Adhiningrat as his fourth wife. After she got married, in 1903, for the first time, inside her father’s house and with the help of the Dutch government, she opened the first Indonesian primary school for Indonesian girls. It is just the matter of time until she get a lot of students and the news of her school was everywhere. It made her became the pioneer of women’s education in Indonesia and the country’s national hero. This is how people heard about Kartini that fight for women’s education and break the patriarchy in the 19th century.

She died at the age of 25, in 1904, just a few days after gave birth to her first and, sadly, last son, Soesalit Djojoadhiningrat. After she died, because of her popular letters and popular mindset, people started to collected the letters and published it as a book called ‘Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang‘ or ‘Out of The Darkness, Comes The Light’.


So, why Indonesian women should watch this movie?

Kartini, as stated, is the pioneer for women’s education in Indonesia. Watching a film about her can get an insight of what she had been through as a woman back then in 19th century, living by the Javanese tradition, as a daughter from a noble family. To thank her for what she did to make us, the Indonesian women, can get an education like what we want.

Then, to put the mindset that Kartini has to the women’s mind. It is to make them become what Kartini want them to be, strong, beautiful, independent, women. Putting their education first so they cannot be the victim of stupidity that society put on them.

Lastly, nowadays, not all young adults care about their own history, about who fight for their rights. They just know and remember, not knowing the details and the real struggle that the people that fight for them have been through. This movie is important to make them know what is the real thing about women’s emancipation, what is it feels like to fight for what is right, and what is it feels like to have the desire to learn, to know, but they could not do it just because one thing, patriarchal culture.



Therefore, for Indonesians, especially the women, please take your time to watch the movie and learn about one of our beloved strong mothers, R.A. Kartini.


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Syafira Angelina

Syafira Angelina or Caca, for short, is an Indonesian young woman who trying her best to fight for human rights. She loves books, global issues, feminism, and dogs. | contact: [email protected]