Islamisation and its Impact on Feminism in Indonesia

Ms Ayu Mariska1

1S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, Singapore

This paper aims to explore how Islamisation has affected feminism in Indonesia. Although Indonesia remains a secular country, Islam is by far the majority religion and as such has a profound influence in determining the direction of Indonesia’s development. From the increased visibility of people’s piety in the public sphere to contestations over modern terminologies and ideas, including feminism. Islamism brought a new dynamic to how women are seen, as well as how they have positioned themselves in society. In 2018, discourse developed espousing anti-feminist sentiments among conservative Muslim women. While scholars will often disagree on the concepts of feminism and Islam, however, more often than not, the rejection of feminism is caused by the misunderstanding of feminism itself. Feminism, just like other modern ideology coined in the west, is regarded as a western concept which therefore is not compatible with Islamic teachings. This paper maps the responses of Muslim societies to feminism in the current of Islamisation during the last two decades. The responses are taken from two perspectives of Muslim groups, the progressive Muslims and the conservative Muslims. Although each group has a different take on feminism, both groups reject the use of the term ‘feminism’ itself. Therefore, the contestation between pro and anti-feminism lies within the narratives of the Islamic teachings itself.


Made Ayu Mariska is currently a graduate student majoring in Asian Studies and a Research Associate at the Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Her research interests including Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies, women and civil society issues.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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