Taiwan’s Indonesian community paid tribute to one of its national heroines who fought for women’s equality, Raden Ajeng Kartini, by organizing cultural activities and a children’s parade in Taipei on April 11.
Hundreds of people, mostly Indonesian and Indonesian-Taiwanese families, packed into the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei where the event was held to take part in the festivities to honor Kartini, who lived from 1879 to 1904.
She is hailed as a hero for pioneering education for girls and women’s empowerment in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period, and the special day is usually celebrated in Indonesia on April 21, her date of birth.
In Taipei, some 67 children dressed in traditional Indonesian kebaya blouses, batik and lurik shirts, and other traditional clothing from various regions of Indonesia to celebrate the occasion.
The national anthem of Indonesia and a special song dedicated to Kartini — “Ibu Kita Kartini” (Our mother, Kartini) — were both sung before the parade.
Iqbal, originally from Java and a Ph.D. student at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, entered his 7-year-old daughter in the parade wearing a traditional Javanese costume.
“I am very happy because we can celebrate Kartini Day not just in Indonesia but also in Taiwan,” Iqbal said.
“Kartini Day is very important for Indonesian people because she is our hero, and being abroad we still want to be able to celebrate, support and show our children our culture.”
The event also enabled children born to Indonesian mothers and Taiwanese fathers to learn about their heritage, said Kartika Dewi, a board advisor for the Indonesian Diaspora Network in Taiwan (IDN Taiwan), the main organizer of the event.
IDN Taiwan describes its mission to connect and promote cooperation between people of Indonesian heritage and Taiwanese, according to IDN Taiwan President Hanas Subakti.
He felt that holding an event in Taiwan honoring Kartini also served as an inspiration to children in Indonesia, who may not be able to participate in Kartini Day events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanas told CNA.
“We want to inspire children in Indonesia to keep adhering to COVID-19 prevention procedures because by following the procedures like how Taiwan did, we can hold events like we are doing today,” Hanas said.
Budi Santoso, head of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) to Taipei, said through a translator that he hoped Indonesians in Taiwan, especially women, will continue Kartini’s legacy.
“Kartini’s spirit showed that both men and women are equal and had equal rights. So whether she is honored in Indonesia or Taiwan, we can continue to embrace her spirit and pass it on to future generations,” Budi said.
There are 260,147 Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan, of which 196,084 are women, according to Ministry of Labor statistics as of the end of February.