4 September 2009

Women's liberation and the struggle for socialist politics in Indonesia

Direct Action Issue 15: September 2009

By Sam King

The National Network for Women’s Liberation (Jaringan Nasional Perempuan Mahardika - JNPM) is an Indonesian women’s liberation organisation consisting of local women’s committees, coordinating bodies and women’s sections of labour, student, peasant and urban poor organisations committed to the liberation of women. JNPM aims to develop direct involvement of women in struggling against capitalism, patriarchal culture and militarism in Indonesia and argues there can be no separation between the generalised struggle of Indonesia’s majority poor population and the struggle for women’s liberation. On August 22 Direct Action interviewed JNPM national coordinator Vivi Widyawati, who will be in Australia in September and October speaking at public meetings organised by Direct Action. Widyawati is also an activist in the Committee for the Politics of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), a socialist party formed two years ago by expelled members of the leftist PRD.

What are the main campaigns JNPM has focused on since it was founded?

Since its foundation there have been many actions undertaken by JNPM such as organising rallies every March 8 for International Women’s Day, developing a program of feminist education, and publishing the fortnightly bulletin Mahardhika. We campaign very broadly on the need to build a nationwide, independent women’s organisation. We also strive for unity between the women’s movement and the broader struggles of the poor majority. We also respond to government decisions or political attacks on women as they arise.

Currently, our main program is aimed at developing women’s committees at the grassroots level in each sector. We run educational programs around the basic rights of women, the political movement, feminism, democracy and about how to organise. Secondly, we distribute as much feminist reading material as possible including distributing Mahardhika. JNPM is also actively involved in building an alliance of all democratic and leftist organisations in Indonesia and of course this includes women’s organisations. We are also currently running a feminist school across three universities in Yogyakarta.