Religion In Indonesia Essay

1157 words - 5 pages

Gender Equality
Gender inequality has become a pervading challenge in Indonesian society. However, in contrast to other countries struggling with gender equality, religion has played a critical role. Referencing Qur’anic text that both man and woman are created equal, the constitution of 1945 attempted to preserve this right into public life. Nevertheless, contrary to these efforts, women are found underrepresented in all aspects of society. Opposition to women achieving equal status is openly pursued; this includes headliners within Muhammadiyah and NU, groups feminists are directly involved in. Called into question by the Marriage Law of 1974, notions of Islam on gender roles are ...view middle of the document...

When Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945, women’s role in politics was clearly minimal. With women remaining underrepresented in all aspects of the political arena, there were fewer possibilities for women having any influence enacting political change for gender equality. By attempting to take a more distinct role in Indonesian politics, the question of the eligibility of women holding high office came into question. The NU and Muhammadiyah’s Aisyiyah firmly reject the notion of women in politics to be haram, or forbidden by faith. Further, according to their Qur’anic interpretation women are allowed to hold any political office, including the office of the President, as long as she meets the required qualifications of the job. This argument came to a close when Megawati Sukarnoputri was sworn into office as the Vice President of Indonesia in 2000 and later becoming president in 2001 when her predecessor, President Wahid, stepped down from office. Although she was never directly elected to hold the office of the president, it was clear that for the first time a woman was politically accepted by the people to hold a responsibility previously reserved to men, upholding the feminist interpretation of the Qur’an.
In addition to holding public office, women further participate in the political realm through petitioning and by releasing a charter, as exemplified by the “Charter on Women’s Rights” announced in Aceh, Indonesia in November 2008. Aceh is known for its extremely conservative attitudes, demonstrated through its application of sharia law in society. Contrary to most other levels of government in Indonesia that instigate secular government, laws in Aceh have strained the role of women in society. Issues in relation to veiling, domestic violence, education and women owning land are therefore called into question. The “Charter on Women’s Rights” is the first of its kind in the Islamic world, explicitly referencing Islam as their entitlement to these basic human rights. Although direct change has not resulted from the release of this charter, it clearly illustrates a religious-based approach to the gender discrimination in the women’s struggle for equality.

Overall, when questioning gender equality, for the most part, it has not been achieved, as women remain underrepresented in all aspects of society; however, education of religion has helped counter this barrier. Calling issues of polygamy and political participation into question, women have used their knowledge of the Qur’an to dismiss the claims of Islamic extremists. Conversely, Kartini’s role in the feminist...

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