The Women Behind Women’s March Jakarta

Indonesian women's rights activists hold up posters during Women's March Jakarta last year. (JG Photo/Lisa SIregar)

By : Dhania Sarahtika | on 1:43 PM March 02, 2018
Category : Life & Style, Arts & Culture

Jakarta. This Saturday (03/03), women in Jakarta will march from a parking lot next to the Sari Pan Pacific Hotel on Jalan Thamrin to the State Palace, demanding the end to gender-based violence against women all over Indonesia. This will be the second time Jakarta hosts the "Women’s March."

Many rights groups are also set to send their members to march tomorrow, including the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Hollaback! Jakarta, Migrant Care, National Network for Domestic Workers Advocacy (Jala PRT), KAPAL Perempuan, Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) and Women's Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Apik).

The initiative to hold the Women’s March Jakarta (WMJ) came from Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group (JFDG), but who exactly are the people organizing the march? Let’s find out.

Kerri Na Basaria

Kerri Na Basaria, lead organizer of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Kerri Na Basaria's personal collection) Kerri Na Basaria, lead organizer of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Kerri Na Basaria personal collection)

Meet the lead organizer of WMJ 2018, Kerri Na Basaria, a history graduate from University of Sydney and University of St. Andrews who now works as a marketing executive at a local property company.

Kerri started her activism in women’s rights when she volunteered at WMJ 2017. She was also a member of the fundraising team for Feminist Fest (FemFest) 2017.

She argues that the march is a perfect medium to speak up against the never-ending violence against women.

According to a Komnas Perempuan finding, nearly 270,000 cases of violence against women – both in the home and in public – were reported in 2017.

"Last year’s WMJ was a reminder that rallies like this are necessary as long as injustice continues to exist, especially toward women, minorities and marginal groups. That is why we are taking up the issue of gender-based violence in 2018," Kerri said in a statement.

Kerri also told the Jakarta Globe why she will march again in WMJ 2018 tomorrow.

"I march because I have the privilege to do so, I do it for those who aren’t able to. Those who have the chance to act and speak up should be encouraged to fight for those whose voices have been silenced," she said.

Naila Rizqi Zakiah

Naila Rizqi Zakiah, deputy organizer of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Naila Rizqi Zakiah's personal collection) Naila Rizqi Zakiah, deputy organizer of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Naila Rizqi Zakiah's personal collection)

Naila Rizqi Zakiah, the deputy organizer of WMJ 2018, is a public defender at LBH Masyarakat.

Naila has taken part and delivered lectures in various local and international conferences, including the Harm Reduction International in Montreal last year.

In 2015, she won the JusticeMakers fellowship from the International Bridges to Justice.

Naila uses her legal expertise to fight for local women’s rights. She has been kept busy in the last few months lobbying members of Indonesia's House of Representatives to reconsider the draft revisions of Indonesia’s criminal code (RKUHP).

The draft revisions include articles that may be used to prosecute women and children who are victims of sexual abuse for adultery.

This is one of the reasons why the focus of WMJ 2018 is combating gender-based violence from a legal perspective.

Apart from campaigning against the RKUHP draft revisions, the march will also encourage the government to ratify the Elimination of Sexual Violence bill that has been stuck in parliament since 2016.

"I march because there are still a lot of cases of gender-based violence and efforts to perpetuate violence and discrimination through the law. I joined Women’s March because there is a great deal of oppression against women in the [RKUHP] draft revisions," Naila told the Jakarta Globe.

Naila, who was one of the speakers at the "HeForShe Talk" in Kemang, South Jakarta, a few weeks ago, said she often faces what she calls "double discouragement" from her family and friends because she is a feminist, but also a Muslim who dons the hijab.

Besides rebelling against stereotypical gender roles, Naila also challenges fundamentalist interpretation of religious values – hence the double discouragement.

"We need more open dialogues between men and women, between religious believers, to talk about sensitive issues in Indonesia. We have to have a movement that will fight for women empowerment and human rights," Naila said.

Anindya "Vivi" Restuviani

Anindya 'Vivi' Restuviani, partnership coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Hollaback! Jakarta) Anindya 'Vivi' Restuviani, partnership coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Hollaback! Jakarta)

"A lot of people associate feminism with women being angry. But think about it, how can I not be angry when I get harassed every single day? How can I not be angry when I get constantly discriminated just because I am a woman?" Anindya Restuviani, or Vivi, said during her presentation at the HeForShe Talk.

Vivi is now the partnership coordinator of WMJ 2018. Before that, she was the chief organizer of FemFest 2017.

Vivi said she marches because she wants people to understand why she is angry.

Growing up in a small town in Central Java, in a conservative Javanese-Muslim family, she has experienced her fair share of gender-based discrimination, including being discouraged from going to university by her grandmother who thinks a woman’s place is at home, so education is not important.

Now Vivi has a Law degree from Diponegoro University and a long list of prestigious achievements, such as being a former member of United Nations Populations and Fund (UNFPA) Indonesia’s Youth Advisory Panel.

Vivi is also the co-director of Hollaback Jakarta! and a communication officer at a social enterprise called Seefar.

One person that keeps Vivi's fire going is her father, who is a former Suharto-era activist. Compared to his experience of going to prison, Vivi said she is "living in a comfort zone."

"So everyday when people try to stop me from whatever I am doing, I always think of my father. He went to jail, he was tortured, but he kept doing what he was doing. What I'm facing now is nothing compared to what he had to go through," Vivi told the Jakarta Globe.

Emily Lawsen

Emily Lawsen, events coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Emily Lawsen's personal collection) Emily Lawsen, events coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (Photo courtesy of Emily Lawsen's personal collection)

"A feminist who loves writing and singing," Emily Lawsen described herself. Emily is the events coordinator of WMJ 2018. Previously she was a member of the FemFest committee.

Constant sexual harassment women receive on the streets and violence committed against marginalized groups like the LGBT community, female factory workers and migrant workers are what give Emily motivation to march in WMJ and take part in other women empowerment events.

But what trigger her the most are "government policies that undermine women," especially the criminal code draft revisions.

"By marching with my friends, I hope the government will open their eyes to their discriminative policies. This year, WMJ 2018 has a list of 8 demands for the government which we have discussed with NGOs. I hope the government will be all ears," she told the Jakarta Globe.

Emily, who works for a Singaporean company, said she is very happy to be appointed as the events coordinator for the march and said it's a "concrete proof of the struggle against injustice that has existed here for a long time."

Kate Walton

Kate Walton, media coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika) Kate Walton, media coordinator of Women's March Jakarta 2018. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

Kate Walton, the media coordinator for the WMJs and FemFest, created JFDG in 2014. Now it has over 2,000 members on Facebook with around 50 volunteers.

The reason she created the Facebook group was because she was fed up with the sexual harassment she received on the street and in the workplace in Indonesia, which has been her home since 2011.

In a recent discussion held as part of Women’s March Jakarta 2018’s pre-events, Walton also revealed she was a victim of dating violence back then in 2011.

A freelance writer, Walton also works for a number of international development programs on women's health, gender and governance.

"I travel around Indonesia a lot for my work and I think that has given me a good understanding of the biggest issues facing Indonesian women and other marginalized groups in the twenty-first century; there is no way anyone can truly understand these problems just by sitting in an office in Jakarta," she told the Jakarta Globe.

As an Australian expat in Indonesia, she emphasizes that the local women’s movement "must be led and directed by Indonesian women themselves, as only they can properly decide what they want to work on or fight against."

She positions herself as a supporter, providing references when necessary on what other countries have done to tackle development and rights issues.

"I also see my role as one of awareness raising, as I am able to highlight issues in Indonesia to the international media – sadly, they pay more attention when a white foreigner is involved, but this means I am able to play this off to help raise awareness and bring attention to challenges surrounding women's rights in Indonesia," Walton said.

Additional reporting by Joy Muchtar

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