Marching Together, Coming Together
by Puji Maharani
With thousands joined in 14 cities nationwide earlier this March, Women's March in Indonesia has caught the public eye. News were written, people and posters photographed, pictures posted on Instagram. But one might wonder, what was it like to be in the said crowd?
Having participated in Women's March Jakarta for two years in a row, I can tell you that it has always been about the sense of camaraderie. Yes, there were eight demands being called for, but people marched for many other gender-related causes, and everybody was free to join. Being in a crowd that understands the importance of fighting against gender-based inequality, felt like having an incredible safe space, and I remember thinking, "We are all in this together."
This year's Women's March have shown how we are stronger together. With more men marching, I saw a promising future where they become an ally who embody the values of gender equality. When stumbled upon people holding posters supporting sexual minorities, I saw a powerfully heart-warming resistance against anti-LGBTQ narrative.
There was also a commendable initiative #MarchingWithMe, in which people could attend the Women's March in solidarity with those who couldn't due to chronic invisible illnesses. The marchers would bring their supporters' posters and share their stories on social media, making the March all the more inclusive.
Personally, Women's March was a reminder for me that regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, class, race, religion, or many other variables that define our identities, we are all human beings with fundamental human rights. On the other hand, it was also Bhinneka Tunggal Ika in practice, because as we marched, we embraced the multitude of our identities and resisted the binaries. To a poster in the March which said, “The future is non-binary”, I say, “Yes, please!”
This all being said, coming together, has its own challenges. One that I consider very concerning is the cold shoulder against the movement’s attempt to tackle the efforts to pass the draft bill on eradicating sexual violence, because it is considered to be “too liberal.” I personally would say that there is nothing too liberal with taking sides with the victims and survivors of sexual violence.
The march is done, but not the resistance. I believe that we need to reflect on more “What’s next?” to keep an eye on how the demands of Women’s March are being followed up. We still have much work to do, among others is the advocacy towards the draft bill on eradicating sexual violence. It is also necessary to foster more networks and collaborations. Remember, it takes a (global) village, which include women, men, transwomen, transmen, and everyone else in between, to smash the patriarchy and build gender equality from its ruins, brick by brick.
Therefore, we shall march on.
Puji Maharani is a development worker and a proud advocate of feminism, who aspire to incorporate gender perspective in her words and works. She tweets as @maharanism.