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Women's organizations in West Sumatra: Some past and current perspectives

Emilia, Ranny (1995) Women's organizations in West Sumatra: Some past and current perspectives. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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The primary aim of this thesis is to explore women’s organizations in West Sumatra, with special emphasis on the New Order period. It seeks to analyze the cultural and historical background of women’s organizations in the region and the modes and characteristics of their movements.The main point of this thesis has been to reveal the significance of the cultural and historical background of Minangkabau women and the development of women’s organizations in West Sumatra during the New Order.

It is not a custom nor a tradition of the Minangkabau people to exclude women from social and political life. Women have particular responsibilities in the matrilineal system and consequent rights in society. Minangkabau women have shown that they have a particular interest in maintaining the matrilineal adat. Islam has often been seen as a factor limiting their opportunities to maintain the adat system. I have suggested, however, that in some instances Islam has strengthened the traditional position of Minangkabau women.

I have argued that New Order’s policies on women imposing a unified gender ideology throughout Indonesia is a retrograde step for women’s organizations in Indonesia. Such an argument is in tune with the overall feminist criticism of the New Order government. However, I have taken issue with Java-centred readings of Indonesian women by suggesting that such critiques have violated the cultural specificities of regional communities and our understanding of women in those regional contexts.

This thesis shows that the New Order ideology of women is not conducive to the cultural and religious thinking of Minangkabau society. The influence of the New Order's ideology on women's organizations in West Sumatra, in fact, is limited for the activists, in some instances, have used the assumptions and moral theory of the indigenous population. This trend helped to shape different characteristics of women’s organizations established under the New Order regime.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Sen, Krishna
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