Happy Women’s Day

Today we celebrate hari Ibu, which loads of people translate as Mother’s Day. Given the history of this day, I feel that to simply say that today is Mother’s day is not quite correct and it actually reduce what the Women’s Congress was trying to achieve, better life for women in Indonesia – mother or not – simply woman. When I say this in the past, some would argue back that there’s nothing wrong in honouring mothers and that they’re true everyday heroes. Well of course, being a mother myself I do understand, but, honouring mothers is our duty. Every day should be mother’s day!

My main problem is that year after year people would just be busy thanking their mom and describing how tough motherhood is, but rarely do anyone ponders about the quality of life women in Indonesia have, regardless whether they’re a mother or not. This I think is dangerous. We are lulled into thinking today is Mother’s Day just like in any other countries. We’re just busy making poems, write stories about how wonderful our mother is, how big their sacrifice etc etc. But does anyone actually stop and think about the condition of mothers in Indonesia? Has every mother here receive adequate medical care pre and post natal? Does all mothers know that domestic violence is not tolerated and that we have laws against it now? Does all mothers receive the necessary support so they can send their daughters (and sons) to school instead of sending them to work on the street, or worse, having to go abroad to work as domestic workers and face multitude of dangers without clear guidelines where to go for help? If there’s any help at all.

Let’s step back and see, what about condition of girls before they turn into mothers. Have they received the supposedly mandatory 9 years of not-so-free education? Any girls still forced to marry older, wealthier men so they can help their family? (and then hide behind religious laws to twist the condition to make it ok) Any girls still forced by their parents or family to work abroad as ‘dancers’? Any girls still sent to work abroad knowing full well they might return in a body bag if at all?

If the answers to all of the above questions is no, then I have no problem this being a Mother’s Day. Oh yes, glorify mothers all you want. However, if there’s a yes to any of the question, as a mother, I ask you to please think about them as well. Please think of mothers who died during childbirth due to lack of medical care – why aren’re medical care available to them? Just because they live in faraway places no one can see? Please think about these poor young girls that are forced into trafficking. They should really be at school studying so they can be better mothers when the time come. Do they still have motherhood as their future?

You have the rest of your life to think about your mother. Please give your thoughts to these women and these girls just a day, today.

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