JAKARTA, Indonesia – Hundreds of women marched through the streets of Indonesia’s capital to fight for women’s equality on Saturday, March 4.
Participants dressed in purple and pink carried posters, proudly declaring themselves feminists, decrying sexual abuse and violence against women, and calling for an end to gender discrimination. Attendees were not only women, but LGBTQ, men and kids also took park in the march under the searing heat, also calling for gender equality.
The march started from Jakarta’s historic mall, Sarinah, which sells Indonesian handicrafts and was the capital’s first modern shopping center. From there, participants walked to the State Palace where the crowd was empowered by speeches and performances from women activists of various backgrounds.
Artists and public figures also helped enliven the event. (IN PHOTOS: Creative posters, sea of pink at Indonesia Women’s March)
Hannah Al-Rashid, an actress, said women in Indonesia still have a long way to go towards equality.
“Events like the Women’s March are needed and very important because there are still many things that Indonesians need to fight for. We have a lot to fight for. We (women) are still downtrodden, oppressed, and do not have equal rights,” she told Rappler.
Nino Fernandez, an actor who joined the march and carried a sign that read, “I’m doing this for my future wife and future daughters,” said “Indonesians are not educated on how to respect women.”
“Whistling and catcalling, ‘Hey, Beautiful!’ is so old-fashioned. That just shows that you lack education,” he said.
The event was also used by activists to bring attention to their causes, and issues that affect women.
Some carried signs calling for justice for Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row in Indonesia for alleged drug trafficking. Rights groups say Veloso was not given a fair trial and is innocent of the charges, being a drug trafficking victim herself. The activists told Rappler they wanted to call attention to the problem of trafficking, which often targets women.
Still another sign read, “Ibu Susi for President,” referring to the tough-talking and action-oriented Susi Pudjiastuti, the Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.
Despite the hot and humid weather, participants were in high spirits, singing, dancing and chanting along with the crowd. The event, an early celebration for International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8, ended with dances to Beyonce’s “Run The World,” a feminist anthem.
Women’s marches gained traction after the election of U.S. president Donald Trump. Activists in major cities in the United States came to the streets in support of gender equality, a movement that spread to other cities around the world in countries like Australia, France, the United Kingdom and now Indonesia.
Human rights observers assert Indonesia has a growing “rape culture” problem. Statistics show sexual aggression and violence against women and girls are widespread, and offenders often don’t get punished for their crimes.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 of the World Economic Forum, which measures gender gaps in key areas like health, education, economy and politics, ranks Indonesia in the bottom half, 88th out of 144 countries. – Rappler.com