Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SAVE Indonesia: Celebrating mothers on International Women's Day

A statement from Lily Zakiyah Munir, SAVE Indonesia coordinator

Women are pillars of the Nation; if they are good, so is the Nation;
If they are bad, so is the Nation.

The above saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has inspired Indonesian women to engage in a movement to promote peace. Through the Mothers for Change! Campaign, Indonesian women envision to nurture peace in society starting with the smallest social unit, our family. We believe that women and mothers are the first school for children, through whom peace values are implanted and nourished.

As change agents for peace, women should undoubtedly be peaceful individuals themselves. They would not be able to radiate peace to others if within themselves there are seeds of anger, frustration, or hatred. They should let go all burdens and negative feelings and come out as forgiving and positive-thinking personalities. Through participatory, reflective sessions of our Mothers for Change! workshop, this was made possible. In the quiet time, where there was no disturbance or interference, women contemplate and communicate with their inner hearts. Slowly and quietly, they unveiled problems encountering them in life. Story telling was an effective method to share problems with others, and peaceful minds will be achieved as a result.

Hearing the stories of these mothers for change, I was amazed by their strength and resilience to endure the hardship. Their problems were varied from economic, violence, discrimination, to multiple burdens, polygamy and insulting treatments. Nature seems to have given women extra powers, physical and emotional, to resist patriarchy’s unjust and discriminatory attitudes to women. It is unfair and unjust to let the situation remain unchanged. Mothers for Change! Campaign has been launched in Indonesia in response to an ardent desire for a peaceful society where women, men, and children co-exist peacefully in an equal and mutually supporting gender relation.

To commemorate the International Women’s Day 2011, it is timely that we rekindle the spirit for gender equality and justice as reflected in Indonesia’s constitution and in international conventions and declarations. This vision will not be achieved without support and participation of other segments of society especially men. The hierarchical gender relation should be replaced with a more just egalitarian relation. Power should be newly defined to mean sharing and empowering, and not dominating or oppressing. Cultural taboos and stereotypes inhibiting women from making progress in the public sphere should be removed. Roles and responsibilities should be equitably shared, to end the multiple burdens saddled on women. Only then can the Prophet Muhammad’s saying above be materialized, i.e. a good nation with the contribution of half of its population, the women. Happy Women’s Day 2011.

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