A Queen of Diplomacy Against Patriarchy: Ratu Kalinyamat

Photo via Wikipedia


Written by Kayla Artamevia Putri

Edited by Ninik Tri Astutik


Today is a free day at Hyde Park. There are plenty of activities people usually do. Instead, people listen to bird songs, watch the ducks walking into the lake, parents play with their kids in the playground, and I am laying down on the grass under the tree, reading the book I bought two days ago. I am also waiting for my friend, who is busy queuing for vanilla ice cream among a group of children at the ice cream stall. 

Instead of focusing on the book, I open Twitter on my phone and read the latest issue about patriarchy and gender equality that is controversial in Indonesia. I immediately thought about how patriarchal culture still exists around me, even in my family. 

“Hey! I thought you were reading your book tho, no?” said Ban. 

Banyu Mahajana, my Indonesian best mate. He is studying and attending the same Uni with me in London. Back to the topic, he finally came back complete with the two ice creams in his two hands after patiently waiting in the ice cream stall. 

“I did, but I chose to read this hot issue in Indonesia. You know FOMO is my middle name. Thank you for the ice cream, by the way!” I said. 

“What kind of hot issue again, now? Mim, please stop reading the endless issue on Indonesia’s Twitter trending!” said Ban with a laugh and continued eating his ice cream. 

“It’s about the patriarchy issue, Ban. There is a group of women who share the knowledge about patriarchy and gender equality, then some freak men on Twitter said that it was not even a big deal and women are supposed to be under man, though.” 

“Oh I see, I almost forgot that some Indonesian people are still dealing with those kinds of issues.”

“I don’t know how Ibu Kartini would feel if she knew about this. She fought about women’s rights, but now there are still men who think that it is not a big deal, huh?” Ban answered. 

“I know in Islam, the position of women is under the men, but the way that people see this is like they only think about the benefit of themselves, not about the women who are always being the victim,” repeated Ban. 

“Talking about Ibu Kartini, do you know Ban, there was a woman like Kartini and she was a Queen in Jepara, her name is Ratu Kalinyamat.” I said. 

“Oh, really? I haven’t heard about her.” said Ban curiously. 

“She was a Queen of Jepara, she was known to be very assertive, brave and she broke all assumptions about women leaders. But do you know what, even though she is a Queen and the leader of the navy, she is still submissive and respectful to her husband like what Al-Quran said!”

After her husband died, Ratu Kalinyamat became the ruler of Jepara. In the 16th century, she brought Jepara to glory. Her nickname was written in the history notebook of Diego do Couto, a historian from Portugal and said, “Rainha de Japara, senhora poderosa e rica, de kranige Dame.” which means queen of Jepara, a powerful and wealthy woman, a woman of courage. Ratu Kalinyamat developed various strategies in various sectors (economic, social, political, and defense) and established diplomatic relations with multiple kingdoms in Nusantara. Moreover, she also set up the shipyard industry in Jepara by utilizing teak wood as a superior commodity. Her journey was written in the book ‘Literature of Java’ by Dr. Th Pigeaud. It stated that the Jepara shipyard industry was the best and most extensive in Southeast Asia, and its products were in great demand by European nations. 

She is an inspirational woman in leadership and a symbol of determination because of her decision-making processes. It proves that women can play a vital role in communities and break down the barriers perpetuating gender-based discrimination. Now, it is our time to advocate and support women’s empowerment in creating a more inclusive society to contribute to a better world. 

Banyu just listened to my story with an O expression until we realized the sun was about to set. That’s how we usually spend our free days. 

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