Jakarta. Xpedisi Feminis, an initiative to explore diverse perspectives on feminism through travel, was launched on Saturday (25/08) with a visit to Cirebon, West Java, where participants sought to learn more about feminism in Islam.
The program began at the Fahmina Institute of Islamic Studies (ISIF), where a number of speakers shared their views on Islamic feminism. Among them were Mariana Amiruddin from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and ISIF deputy directors Marzuki Wahid and Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir.
Mariana said feminism was a tool to better the lives of women, and stressed that the idea was not solely a Western concept.
"There are hidden texts in our history, which is filled with stories of female leaders," she said.
They include figures such as Tribhuwana Tunggadewi of the Majapahit Empire, Queen Kalinyamat of Japara and Nyi Ratu Mas Gandasari from Aceh. Their stories, Mariana added, should be researched further for a better understanding of feminist movements in Indonesia.
Marzuki, who is also a prominent member of Nahdlatul Ulama, said he believes that Islam is just and in tune with gender equality.
"Islam teaches us that women are human beings. The value of a human being is not determined by sex, but piety," he said, adding that it is important to interpret the Koran in accordance with the values of justice, freedom, equality, brotherhood and well-being of the people.
According to Mariana, Xpedisi Feminis is extremely timely, as it attempts to discover Indonesian values in the movement for gender equality and enrich it with a more local perspective.
"Not many people have tried to explore this, and it's a women-led initiative, comprising mostly young women," she said.
Xpedisi Feminis organizers said in a statement that they had chosen Cirebon for the program's first session, as it was considered the entry point of Islam to Indonesia.
The first session's participants also visited the Sunyarangi Cave, Keraton Kasepuhan and Kebon Jambu al-Islamy, a feminist boarding school led by Masriyah Amva.
Masriyah said Muslim women should be feminists, and asserted that a culture in which women are dependent on men should not be upheld.
The 23 participants who took part in the first event were activists, journalists, retirees and housewives. The program was supported by online platform Indonesia Feminis, Cherbon Feminist community, online publication Magdalene.co and online traveling platform iwashere.id.
Xpedisi Feminis organizers told the Jakarta Globe they plan to take on themes centered on perspectives covering social, cultural and historical issues unique to Indonesia to raise awareness on social justice and equality.