Women Leaders


Meidi Kasmidi, environmental activist
Meidi Kasmidi has been awarded with Women and Conservation Recognition Award from the World Wildlife Fund. Kasmidi's work in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has made an outstanding and nationally significant contribution to the field of marine conservation. In the early 1990s, Kasmidi worked to establish the Bunaken Marine Park, now a World Heritage site, and helped to develop innovative and sustainable community-based village enterprises within the park.

She worked closely with a range of women's groups and gained widespread respect for her capacity to bring the concepts of marine conservation to fishers and other resource-dependent communities living outside the park. Kasmidi also founded Kelola, a leading environmental non-governmental organization in North Sulawesi responsible for a broad range of advocacy and community empowerment programs. Through her work with the Indonesian coastal resources management program, Proyek Pesisir, Kasmidi has recently begun to assist other communities in initiating community-based marine sanctuary programs similar to the initial effort in Bunaken, and is working with government and non-governmental organizations to upgrade school curriculums dealing with marine resource conservation.

Source: World Wildlife Fund Acknowledges Women's Contribution to Conservation

Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, feminist lawyer
Ms. Katjasungkana is the coordinator of the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice, Bogor, Indonesia. She is also a member of the Steering Committee for Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD). She also co-founded the Indonesian Women Association for Justice. Nur, as she is called by peers, is the best-known advocate of legal justice and human rights protections for women in Indonesia.
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Srie Lestari Rahayu, councilor, local house of representatives, Bantul County
Elected in 1999, Ms. Srie Lestari Rahayu holds the position of Councilor of the Local House of Representatives, Bantul County in Yogyakarta. She is affiliated with the PDI Perjuangan Party (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle). Her areas of responsibility include managing issues of education, employment, arts and culture, religion, public welfare etc. for Bantul County residents. Ms. Rahayu thinks women’s concerns and priorities about urban local government and urban issues generally differ from those of men, in that women involve people in problem solving. In her view increasing the number of women representatives and officials in urban local government would have a direct effect on the status of women, as society becomes more aware that women can compete with men.

She is the recipient of the UNESCAP Awards for Outstanding Service and Breaking Barriers Against Participation in Local Government in 2001.

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Dita Sari
Against the background of the 32-year Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, Dita Sari was born in Jakarta in December 1972. She first became involved in political activism when she took part in a student demonstration in support of human rights in 1992. Shortly after, she gave up her studies and took to organising workers in an illegal trade union- the first independent union in Indonesia- and leading strike actions for economic and social justice.

Having been detained, harassed, beaten and sexually abused by the military on numerous occasions, she was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 1996 for 'sedition,' after leading 20000 striking workers in a non-violent march on the Tandes industrial area to protest labour conditions.

From prison she continued to lead her movement, and on her release in 1999 was unanimously elected Chairperson by the Congress of the National Front for Indonesian Workers Struggle (FNPBI). She continues to hold that post, and earlier this year refused to accept a $50000 human rights award from Reebok, in light of their poor treatment of workers in Indonesia and Mexico.

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Megawati Sukarnoputri, President of Indonesia
Born in 1947, Megawati Sukarnoputri is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno (Sukarnoputri means ‘daughter of Sukarno’).

Megawati became a prominent political figure in Indonesia when she won control of the Christian-nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party (the PDI) in 1995. In June 1996, a government backed faction ousted her from leadership of the PDI, sparking bloody riots in Jakarta.

After Suharto was forced out of power, Megawati emerged as the leader of the newly formed faction, the PDI-P – the Indonesia Struggle for Democracy Party. The party won the most seats in the June 1999 election, but did not achieve an outright majority. Although she was the popular choice to become Indonesia’s fourth president, Megawati was defeated in a parliamentary vote for the president by Abdurrahman Wahid. She was later appointed as Wahid’s Vice President.

Megawati Sukarnoputri was sworn in as Indonesian head of state on July 23, 2001 minutes after the national assembly (DPR) dismissed President Abdurrahman Wahid and elected her in a unanimous vote.

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Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid, former first lady
Before becoming a first lady in 1999, Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid was a social activist leading demonstrations against the Suharto government.
As Indonesia's first lady, she chose to focus on the handicapped and women. (She herself was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in 1993.) She speaks up about violence against women, especially domestic violence.
Ms. Wahid believes that the root of much discrimination against women rests in an incorrect interpretation of the Islamic teachings. In 1998, she set up a group of Islamic scholars and social activists to research gender bias in a religious text that is widely used in Indonesian Koran schools.

Source: A Muslim feminist stirs Indonesia's waters

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Dated: 16Oct2002