Roehana Koeddoes: Google doodle to honor first female Indonesian journalist
Today Google Doodle celebrates Indonesian educator and journalist Roehana Koeddoes (new spelling Ruhana Kuddus), a lifelong champion of women’s equality and freedom of expression. For her pioneering achievements, the Indonesian government named her a national hero on this day in 2019.
Roehana Koeddoes was the first female Indonesian journalist, founder of the Malay language newspaper Soenting Melajoe, and an activist for women's emancipation. As the first of its kind in Indonesia, this publication directly inspired the development of several other influential Indonesian women’s newspapers.
Roehana Koeddoes was born Siti Roehana on December 20, 1884 in the small city of Koto Gadang, West Sumatra, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). She has grown up during an era when Indonesian women were generally excluded from formal education, she developed a love for reading by consuming the pages of a local newspaper and sharing local news with her friends by the age of seven.
Roehana was intelligent although she did not receive a formal education. She often studied with her father, who taught her reading and language studies. When her father was assigned to Alahan Panjang, West Sumatera, she asked her neighbors (including the wife of another prosecutor) to teach her reading and writing in Jawi and Latin script, and household skills such as Lace-making.
In 1911, she formalized her career in education with the establishment of the first school in Indonesia specifically geared toward women. After the death of her mother in 1897, she returned to Koto Gadang and became increasingly interested in teaching the girls there to learn handicrafts and to read the Quran, despite still being a child herself.
Founded in her hometown, Koeddoes’ school empowered women through a range of programs, from teachings in Arabic literacy to morality. She broadened her impact following a move to Bukittinggi, a larger West Sumatran city, by becoming one of Indonesia’s first women journalists.
Throughout her career, Koeddoes continued to pen articles that encouraged women to stand up for equality and fight against colonialism, with some achieving national recognition. Thanks in part to trailblazers like Koeddoes, many consider women in Indonesian journalism to be more critical and courageous than ever.
In 1913 she accompanied the Westenenk family to the Netherlands for a time to improve her education. After returning to the Indies she continued to edit.
Soenting Melajoe. Roehana Koeddoes died in Jakarta on August 17, 1972, 27 years on Indonesian Independence Day.
Here’s to a pioneer whose impacts continue to shape Indonesian media today—Roehana Koeddoes!
Source: Google doodle, Wikipedia
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