Chattering and colours buzz in the cool air one sunny afternoon as 10 ladies from Citra Kartini Indonesia (CIRI) gather in their finest traditional attire from different provinces in Indonesia, showing a culture so diverse yet united in harmony. Aceh’s costume, for example, lends a more masculine air by accessorising red baju kurung and cekak musang pants with gold embroidered sarong; meanwhile, Bali’s costume breathes tropical breezes by pairing black floral-patterned kamen cloth and a red kebaya top tied with a big bow.
CIRI is a foundation that aims to empower women and to act on climate change as framed in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. Headed by Ayu Heni Rosan, the members are Miranti Serad, Darariza Wahid, Santhi Serad, Diah Permatasari, Sheilla Erlangga, Mika Hadi, Hana Fadel, Anggia Benjamin, and Fransiska.
“Why did we choose Kartini as the role model? Indonesian women now enjoy equal opportunity to freely work, to freely pursue knowledge, and to be themselves all thanks to Kartini,” Ayu says. “CIRI now continues her spirit and work for the betterment of women and a healthier environment in this country.”
Ever since its establishment in early 2017, followed by the signing of the deed of establishment on April 21, CIRI has been guided by Dr Nurmala Kartini Sjahrir, advisor for climate change to the Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Resources, and Rachmat Witoelar, the President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, to achieve its climate change agenda.
“We are working together on many green agendas such as mangrove tree planting, which happened recently on May 15 at Untung Jawa Island,” says Ayu. “Aside from protecting the coastline, the mangrove will be used to create natural dyes for local craftswomen to work and help support their families.”
Further in the works to help women who own small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), CIRI looks to Triawan Munaf, Head of Indonesia’s Creative Economy Council; Putri Kuswisnu Wardani, President Director and CEO of Mustika Ratu; and Tri Mumpuni from Institut Bisnis dan Ekonomi Kerakyatan, a non-profit institute that provides economic knowledge and renewable energy technology to rural villages.
“CIRI has also held coding classes for women in order to help promote their businesses by creating and running online stores and websites,” says Ayu. “They, in turn, can then teach others around them.”
With the shops ready, CIRI’s batik programme to preserve and promote traditional Indonesian cloth will then work in tandem. “We are doing end-to-end training with local craftswomen to revitalise the industry and to support their economic independence,” Ayu says. Starting from the Kudus-style batik with Miranti at the helm, CIRI also spreads awareness through events such as the Women Expo bazaar in 2016.
Last year’s high-tea event attended by the spouses of 14 ambassadors to Indonesia was also a success with a showcase of different examples of Kudus-style batik and a batik drawing lesson. The same multicultural audience also attended another CIRI event—this time, a cooking demonstration by chefs Mika and Santhi at the centre. “This is another project we have: to introduce Indonesia’s rich culinary heritage to other countries besides improving the food products made by local SMEs,” Ayu says.
In the end, CIRI’s adviser, Dr Sjahrir, puts it best as to how women and climate change are related. “Both women and nature are marginalised: there’s a tendency to destroy and to be violent to both because they are always an object and never a subject in our society,” she says. Although still a young organisation of barely two years in action, with the support of others and the guidance of its mentors, the women in CIRI together strive to achieve a better future for women on a greener Earth.