Let’s face it, 2016 was pretty shitty.
Outside of Indonesia, we had Trump, Aleppo, Brexit and endless attacks on humanism that were, quite frankly, depressing and disheartening. In Indonesia, the end of 2016 saw increased attempts to destabilize us, namely due to far-right Islamists and an ex-president with a serious case of baper (emo) and alleged ulterior political motives.
Despite the fuckeries happening amongst the patriarchy of local and global politics, there’s one group of people who have started 2017 with a bang, the kind of bang that will hopefully leave ripples of sweet-goodness throughout the year: WOMEN.
What has so far been the biggest event of 2017 observed by millions across the world?
No, it isn’t President (urgh!) Trump’s inauguration, because, let’s face it, we saw those aerial photos. The biggest event of 2017 for me (and according to aerial photos in comparison) is the Women’s March, the movement of hundreds and thousands of women and men across the world who marched together in protest of misogyny and patriarchy, and who marched for equality for everyone under the sun.
Apart from the fact that Trump is a misogynist dick who grabs pussy and wants to dictate what women should do with their bodies through the global gag rule he has re-imposed, women across the world came out to march in the name of the rights of everyone, not just themselves. They marched (and continue to march) for the LGBT community, for Muslims, for Refugees, for the tribes of Standing Rock and for anyone else disenfranchised.
Women are leading the revolution, and I have never been so inspired. But if I’m perfectly honest, I am not in the least surprised that women are at the forefront of “the resistance.” Women are natural caregivers; we care – sometimes too much – about everyone. I believe women are predisposed to making sacrifices and fighting for others, I mean it’s in our DNA: pregnant women literally sacrifice their bodies for nine months to create life and spend the rest of their lives catering to the needs of those that they have created.
Why is it also important that women are selflessly marching for the rights of themselves and everyone else? Because it is well known and well documented, that in this world, it is women who suffer the most. Women make up half of the world population, yet they are not treated equally as men, in almost every aspect of life. Women and Men both procreate, yet the bulk of raising a child is left to the woman. Boys and girls don’t have the same access to education, but when they do, in a lot of cases across the developing world, girls are taken out of education before graduating to get married. And if women do graduate, and gain access to the job market, they do the same work as their male counterparts, but they are paid less.
And then there are the women who feel, whether through their own choice, or societal, cultural or family demands, that they should sacrifice their careers to stay at home and raise their children. What happens to these women if their husbands leave them or pass away? Society scorns them as damaged goods.
In times of conflict, women and girls suffer disproportionately. And conflict or not, 1 in 3 women across the world will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives (mostly by an intimate partner by the way). Then there are the women, like myself, who experience street harassment almost every single day of their lives, just because men feel it’s OK to whistle at us on the street. Woman live every day of their lives under conditions dictated by the patriarchy, by those who aren’t women, and who, therefore, don’t have any right to dictate how our female lives pan out.
I just came back from Aceh, where along with friends from UNDP Indonesia, we met and interviewed some brilliant women, who as female adat (traditional) leaders are solving all kinds of problems and keeping the peace in Aceh via the adat judiciary system to amazingly positive effect. Some of these women have lived through 30 years of conflict in Aceh, and the devastating effects of the Tsunami in 2004, as one of the brave women quoted “we carry conflict in our hearts,” but they are determined to fight for their rights and for an equal place in their communities. These women in the gampong (village) may be 15,000 km away from Washington DC, but, boy, are they carrying the torch and the energy of the Women’s March movement in their stride.
It is with the renewed energy these women have instilled in me, and, indeed, all the women with their cheeky posters who have been protesting across the world throughout 2017, that makes me so excited to finally be able to stop only posting #womensmarch on my social media, and finally take to the streets myself on March 4 in Jakarta.
People might not understand why we’re marching, for the Trump effect may not be felt over here in Indonesia, but, believe me, Indonesian women have A LOT to fight for. I, for one, will be marching for Indonesian girls across the archipelago who are always overshadowed by the boys, and I will be marching for the Acehnese women I met this weekend.
For those of you who want to march with me, let’s meet at the Starbucks on the ground floor of Plaza Indonesia at 9.30 a.m., and march to Bunderan HI together, for all women across Indonesia. Because, as those Women’s March posters have eloquently put it, “A woman’s place is in the revolution (not the kitchen).”
Read Hannah’s piece on Spice Girls and her feminist awakening.
Hannah Al Rashid is, in her own words, a confused mongrel child. Born and raised in London to a Bugis father and a French mother, she studied Indonesian and Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She moved to Jakarta in 2008 to work in development, but for the past five years has worked as an actress and TV presenter instead. Hers is a perspective of a confused child of all nations, lost in the fatherland, trying to make rent as a performing monkey.