11/08/2014, 00.00
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Catholic Women's Movement boosts the role of women in Indonesian society

by Royani Lim
Founded in 1924, the Indonesian Association of Catholic Women (WKRI) is active in promoting the dignity of women, according to the dictates of the Church. The movement’s goal is to tackle under-development and gender issues. Initiatives include, programs, female literacy, sewing classes and other training courses.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Interior renewal to help effectively promote the role of women in Indonesian society while combatting gender disparities. According to Justina Rostiawati, chairman of the Indonesian Catholic women's Association (WKRI), this is the goal of the Catholic female organism, which met last week in Jakarta, celebrating 90 years of social work. From its outset the association has distinguished itself within the Indonesian society, for its active role in promoting the dignity of women, following the directives of Catholic doctrine.

The WKRI was born in 1924 in Yogyakarta, in central Java, thanks to the intuition of two leading figures from the local church, the Jesuit priest Fr. van Driesche and Mrs. RA Soejadi Sastraningrat. The movements goal from the outset was to minimize underdevelopment and gender issues that long forced Indonesian women into an inferior role to their male counterparts.

One of the first initiatives was literacy programs, sewing classes and other training courses for women.

In the last few decades in Indonesia gender issues have become increasingly heated.  The issue permeated discussion at the conference, which was held last week to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the association. A low key celebration, but a lot of ideas and projects to give more weight and value to the presence of women in society, a social reality that remains - in some areas and sectors - limited, if not discriminated against.

Today WKRI counts at least 86 thousand members throughout the country and is active both within the Church and in society. Rather than looking at past successes, attention is focused on the future, because as the president says much remains to be done in a "male-centric" society. Another step that needs to be taken in this mission is eliminating factors that have tarnished the association's image in the past, including the idea that some of its members are "old-fashioned, elderly and ignorant women"

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, Christians represent 5.7 per cent of the population with Catholics just over 3.6 per cent. Catholics are an active component in society. Over the years, they have contributed to the nation's development and played a major role in emergency operations, as was the case during the devastating floods of January 2013.


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