Raden Ayu Kartini (1879-1904)
Per Javanese noble tradition, Kartini was secluded at home from the age of 12 until her marriage at age 24. Removed from school, Kartini read widely with a particular focus on the emancipation of women. She wrote and was published in De Hollandsche Lelie (The Dutch Lily), a Dutch magazine for young women.
At age 24, she unwillingly became the third wife of the polygamous Regent Chief of Rembang. He supported her interest in women’s education and helped her to create a female academy in the district. Less than a year after her marriage, Kartini died after giving birth to her son Soesalit.
After her death, the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies collected the letters Kartini had written to her Dutch penpals. In 1911, they were published in a book entitled Door Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Dark Comes Light). Eventually translated into Malay and Javanese, these letters improved the Dutch understanding of the native Javanese and contributed to social change in Indonesia. Inspired by these letters, the Van Deventer family created the R.A. Kartini Foundation to established schools for women in Java.
Since 1964, April 21 has been Karini Day, a national holiday in Indonesia.