Friday, October 13, 2006

Women in America and Indonesia

“We cannot make poverty history until women enjoy their full social, cultural, economic, and political rights,” Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, said (ABCNews). Her statement simply describes that women have many problems. In fact, UNFP is passing along the borders on country and culture. Diversity in any country can have lead to various problems faced by women. For example, women in America and Indonesia may have different and or similar problems. It is interesting to discuss it because America is a totally free country. On the contrary, Indonesia is still keeping its patriarchal tradition. This condition can influence differences and similarities on women’s conditions for both countries.
Overall, women in America and Indonesia are having similar responsibilities in the family, as it holds true with taking care of their children. To illustrate, when children are still young, their mothers would accompany wherever they go and look after for whatever necessity they have. Another example, women take charge of house chores such as cleaning, cooking, washing. Generally, keeping housework is women’s main responsibility most countries.
Conditional distinctions between women in America and Indonesia are in many cases, as in education, religion, and culture. First of all is education. Indeed, in education American women are highly literate than Indonesian women. For example, American women have the same opportunity to continue their studies as men do. Moreover, they could decide where they will study, and what major they will pursue. In comparison, Indonesian women have follow what their family chooses for them; not only on where they will study but also on what department they will apply. In fact, dichotomies between men and women in education still happen. To demonstrate, many departments are prohibited for women despite of only implicit, for example, engineering or everything that relates to the machine because it is unusual for women to have this type of work. Women should work in a clean and soft place. In this case, Indonesian men have more opportunities to go to school.
Religion gives affectation for women too. At this point, American women are weaker in keeping up with their religion. Sometimes, they do not care about religion, and in extreme, they do not believe in God. So, in ways of their life, religion is not influenced by their life. Of course, they always feel free, and never think about religious doctrine. Unlike American women, Indonesian women always view that religion is one part of their life. They are very strong to keep religious doctrine. For instance, before they do something, they always think whether it is prohibited or not in religion, so everything they will do is in consonance with the norms of religion. Consequently, they feel not free at all because religion is always in their hearts and minds.
Certainly, America with western culture differs with Indonesia that follows eastern culture. Western culture offers freedom for women to become open minded in many things. As an illustration, women in America have space to be active in public area and in society specially in politics and business. In addition, they are fully encouraged to express what they want to do. Because of this situation, American women can bargain their position in their society, and they get their rights. Meanwhile, eastern culture is more secret and strict in women. Indeed, most of Indonesian people have a view that women should always stay in home and be prohibited to work or be active in outside. To illustrate, when they spend much time working outside, they are viewed to be a bad mother, and do not have good responsibility. Another example, women in Indonesia could not consider their life because their family, particularly their father and their brother, have to decide in all of their ways of life, such as their husband candidate, their education, their plans for the future. Of course, from this case, women do not have good bargain position in their family, also, in their society.
Religion is basic of all dissimilarities and similarities among women. Definitely, religion influences not only in transcendent relationship but also with profaned relationship. As a result, every way of life is inside of religion doctrine. However, we should separate between religion doctrine and religion interpretation. Actually, core of religion doctrine is alike. The difference is only in interpretation. In fact, every interpretation depends on its interpreter, such as what the purpose of the interpreter is, what his educational background is; and political situation too. For example, the view of Islam about education and society for women, actually, Islam keeps pluralism always, so Islam never prohibits women to not only access education but also join with their society and Islam supports it fully (“Education”). According to Princess Sarvant, “The religion is unequivocal. Islam fully encourages the education and well-being of girls, and the prophet Muhammad took every opportunity to make a favorable comment regarding the status of women (“Education”). In other words, in Prophet Muhammad’s tradition, he always gave a chance to develop education not only among men but also for women too. Muhammad said that searching for knowledge was the duty of every believer (“Education”).
In conclusion, education, religion, and culture women in America and Indonesia have both similarities and dissimilarities. From this case, we can know that women in every country have problems that depend on their situation.


NICE Program