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10 Super Heroines from Indonesia

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Irina Jusuf
Written by Irina Jusuf

To commemorate Heroes Day in November 10th in Indonesia, we will be selecting top 10 heroines of Indonesia and share their stories with you. These heroines played an instrumental role in fighting for Indonesia’s independence, our beloved country’s independence.

Thanks to these women’s persistence and enthusiasm, Indonesia finally became a sovereign state that is independent and free from colonialism. From Indonesia’s series of heroes list, there are names of tough women who are recorded as Indonesia’s national hero. During their life, they struggled to raise the dignity of Indonesia as a nation. Here are the awesome stories of their struggle for us to commemorate and remember.

1. Tjoet Nja Dhien (Cut Nyak Dien)

Cut Nyak Dien and her husband Teuku Umar directed the Ache war against the Dutch colony since 1880. The Dutch colony claimed to be overwhelmed by the two super fighters of Indonesia. Because of the couple’s persistence and constant fight to free Indonesia from the colony, the story of Cut Nyak Dien’s struggle finally was made into a movie with the title, “Tjoet Nja Dhien,” in 1988. This was after Teuku Umar passed away. “Tjoet Nja Dhien” movie is directed by Eros Djarot, starring Christine Hakim as Tjoet Nja Dhien, Piet Purnama as Pang Laot, and Slamet Rahardjo as Teuku Umar. The film won Citra Award for Best Film, and became the first Indonesian movie screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989.

2. Tjoet Nja ‘Meutia (Cut Nyak Meutia)

Initially, Tjoet Nja ‘Meuita lead a resistance to the Netherlands with Teuku Tjik Tunong, her husband (also called Teuku Muhammad). However, in March 1905, Teuku Tjik Tunong was captured by the Dutch colony and was executed at the Lhokseumawe Beach. This incident left Tjoet Nja ‘Meuita to continue the resistance by herself. She continued the resistance towards Netherlands with Pang Nanggroe until she was finally killed on September 26th, 1910.

3. Raden Ajeng Kartini

Raden Ajeng Kartini is a true female warrior who becomes a pioneer of women revival because of her revolutionary contribution to the emancipation of Indonesia’s women. Publication of Kartini’s letters, attracted the attention of the Dutch society (despite being a native woman in Indonesia who did not have much rights during the time). Kartini’s thoughts finally began to change the view of the Dutch colony towards indigenous women in Java. Her flow of thoughts that were compressed on those letters became an inspiration for national leaders for Indonesia. W.R. Soepratman even wrote a song to commemorate Kartini’s substantial contribution to free Indonesia’s women. The song is called, “Ibu Kita Kartini.”

4. Hj. Fatmawati Soekarno

Fatmawati is the woman who sewed the first Indonesian flag in Indonesia’s first independent proclamation on the 17th, of August, 1945. The flag was called the “Sang Saka Merah Putih.” She was the third wife of President Soekarno who was the first Indonesian president. As the first First Lady of Indonesia, she raised funds to build a hospital. The hospital is now called, “Fatmawati Hospital.”

5. Hj. Rangkayo Rasuna Said

Hj. Rangkayo Rasuna Said worked in the Sareka Rakyat organization and was put behind bars by the Dutch colony in 1932 for protesting against the injustice of Government of the Netherlands East Indies. She was once listed as the members f the DPR-RIS and Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung) and also actively fought for the equal rights of men and women. Rasuna Said died in 1965 and she was recognized as one of Indonesia’s national hero.

6. Maria Walanda Maramis

Maria Walanda Maramis becomes a national hero in 1969. She was born and raised in North Sulawesi, always aspiring to be the woman that lead the advancement of women in her region. Maria founded the PIKAT (Love mother to child derivatives) organization in 1917. Her aim was to improve the welfare of mothers and children in her area. Due to her active fight for the rights of women, her name made it to the title of Indonesia’s heroine. In 1919, Maria fought for women and she voiced her opinions in the legislature of Minahasa Raad

7. Martha Christina Tiahahu

Martha was born on January 4th, 1800 to Thomas Matulessy’s family. Thomas Matulessy (Martha’s father) was a fellow soldier who fought against the Dutch colony in 1817. Together with her father, Martha fought to fend off invaders from her land where she was born. She died during a battle in the Banda Sea (Laut Banda)

8. Nyi Ageng Serang

Not a lot of people know Nyi Ageng Serang, but her influence and contribution to Indonesia are worthy to be included. She was active in leading troops to carry out the resistant movement in Serang. She aided Pangeran Diponegoro’s struggle against all the invaders in the area. This is why her name is included in this list of 10 heroines who fought for Indoensia’s independence.

9. Opu Daeng Risadju

Opu Daeng Risadju is a steadfast woman who led the revolt against NICA in 1946 in South Sulawesi. Unfortunately, she was arrested a few months later and was tortured. The torture damaged her hearing and she became deaf. Opu Daeng Risadju’s name was recorded as a national woman hero in 2016.

10. Dewi Sartika

Dewi Satrika was the leading pioneer for access of education for Indonesian women. She was the founder of the first school for women in Dutch East Indies. She was formally acknowledged as a National Hero by the Indonesian government in 1966. On January 16h, 1904, she built the Sekolah Isteri for women at Bandung Regency’s Pendopo. This was later relocated to Jalan Ciguriang and the name changed to Sekolah Kaoelaman Isteri (Wife Emimency School) in 1910. The name of the school changed again to Sekolah Raden Dewin in 1929. Dewi Sartika died on September 11th, 1947, at Cineam, Tasikmalaya while evacuating from Bandung due to the independence war. (By: Irina/various sources)

About the author

Irina Jusuf

Irina Jusuf