Women Empowerment Starts at Home

Lena Simanjuntak with her painting & flower decoration. Picture by Veve Hitipeuw

Lena Simanjuntak, an Indonesian female artist leaves her home and family in Germany regularly to fight for empowerment of marginalized women in Indonesia.  She spends time with women groups in rural area in order to assist them developing a theater performance, which allows them to express themselves and talk about their problems in the society.

Family Support Means Everything

Being away from home is not easy for Lena, but she believes she has to do something for Indonesian women.  Lena does not work alone, but together with several women organizations in Indonesia.

In Germany Lena is also active in social groups.  She co-founded an organization for female migrants.  Sometimes she is invited by universities or women organizations to give a presentation about her work in Indonesia.  Besides, she also still writes poems and recitation, makes painting and arranges flowers for decoration.

Despite of many activities, as other women Lena also likes to spend time with her family; sharing stories with her husband and daughters or playing with her grandchildren.  She is so happy that her family has always been supporting her in many ways.

“It is a personal decision, if a husband wants to support his wife’s activity outside home.  It has nothing to do with nationality.  It is not a problem of western or eastern culture”, so said Karl Mertes, Lena’s husband.

Lena’s biggest support comes from home: husband and daughters. Picture by Veve Hitipeuw

For Lena, support from husband is not only limited to giving her a permit to leave home and work in Indonesia.  His support also includes assisting Lena in preparing her presentation and translating Lena’s works.

“When I was younger, I did not understand why my mother left home for such a long time.  I hated her for not being there when my sister and I had a problem in school. But after some time, I know why she does it and I am proud of her.  I also would like to join her after my children grow up”, so said Nannete Mertes, Lena’s first daughter.

Author: Veve Hitipeuw

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Report from World Economic Forum (WEF)

Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Gender Gap

Please read the report here.