Raden Adjeng Kartini (born in Jepara, Central Java, April 21, 1879 - died in Rembang, Central Java, September 17, 1904 at the age of 25) or more accurately called Raden Ayu Kartini was a prominent Javanese and Indonesian National Hero. Kartini is known as a pioneer of the rise of Indonesian women.
Raden Adjeng Kartini was one of the Javanese aristocrats or nobles, the daughter of Raden Mas Adipati Ario Sosroningrat, the regent of Jepara.
Until the age of 12, Kartini was allowed to attend school in ELS (Europese Lagere School). Here, Kartini learn the Dutch language. But when she was 12 years old, she had to stop attending the school and stay at home.
Since Kartini could speak Dutch, at home she began to study by herself and write letters to her friends pen pal from Netherlands. One of them was Rosa Abendanon who supported her a lot. Through European books, newspapers, and magazines, Kartini was interested in the advancement of European women's thoughts. Her desire to help forward Indonesian women was arise seeing that the native women were at the low social status.
Kartini read Semarang newspaper 'De Locomotief' - managed by Pieter Brooshooft - a lot. She was also received leestrommel (package of magazines circulated by bookstore to the subscribers). Among them, there were magazines of culture and science, and also Dutch women's magazine De Hollandsche Lelie. Kartini then sent her writings for several times and those writings were published in De Hollandsche Lelie. Kartini was someone who read with great attention.
Her attention wasn't solely about women's emancipation, but also about general social problems. Kartini saw that women struggled to gain freedom, autonomy and legal equality as a part of broader movement.
Among the books Kartini read before the age of 20 were Max Havelaar and Surat-Surat Cinta (Love Letters) by Multatuli which she read twice before November 1901. Then, there was De Stille Kraacht (literally means Power of Invisibility) by Loius Coperus. There were a roman-feminist book by Mrs. Goekoop de-Jong Van Beek and an anti-war novel written by Berta von Suttner, Die Waffer Nieder (literally means Put the Weapons).
Kartini married the regent of Rembang, K.R.M. Ario Singgih Djojo Adhiningrat on November 12, 1903. Her husband understood Kartini's desire to help native women. He gave her the freedom to establish a school for women in the east gate of Rembang disrtict office complex. Kartini's first and the last child, R.M. Soesalit was born on September 13, 1904. A few days later, September 17, 1904, Kartini died at the age of 25. Kartini was buried in Bulu, Rembang.
Thanks to her determination, a school for women 'Sekolah Wanita' by Kartini Foundation was established in Semarang in 1912, and later in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Malang, Madiun, Cirebon, and other areas. Kartini Foundation was founded by Van Deventer, a figure of the Ethical Policy.
After Kartini passed away, Mr. J.H. Abendanon collected and recorded the letters R.A. Kartini sent to her friends in Europe. Abendanon at that time was the Minister of Culture, Religion, and Crafts of Dutch East Indies. The book was entitled Dood Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Dark Comes Light).
On May 2, 1964, President Sukarno issued a Presidential Decree which established R.A. Kartini as National Hero and set her birthday, April 21, to be commemorated each year as Kartini Day.