Roehana Koeddoes: Google doodle to honor Indonesia’s first female 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 Indonesia’s first female journalist, founder of the Malay language newspaper Soenting Melajoe and an activist for women’s emancipation. 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 in Siti Roehana on December 20, 1884 in the small town of Koto Gadang in West Sumatra, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). She grew up at a time 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 from the age of seven.

Roehana was intelligent despite having no formal education. She often studied with her father, who taught her reading and the study of languages. When her father was posted to Alahan Panjang in West Sumatera, she asked her neighbors (including the wife of another prosecutor) to teach him to read and write in Jawi and Latin, as well as household skills such as lace.

In 1911, she formalized her career in education with the establishment of the first school in Indonesia specifically for women. After her mother’s death in 1897, she returned to Koto Gadang and became increasingly interested in teaching girls to learn handicrafts and read the Quran, although she was still a child herself. .

Founded in her hometown, the school in Koeddoes has empowered women through a range of programs, from teaching Arabic literacy to morality. She widened her impact after a move to Bukittinggi, a larger city in West Sumatra, becoming one of Indonesia’s first female journalists.

Throughout her career, Koeddoes continued to write articles encouraging women to stand up for equality and fight against colonialism, with some gaining 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 their education. After returning to India, she continued to edit.

Soenting Melajoe. Roehana Koeddoes died in Jakarta on August 17, 1972, aged 27 on Indonesian Independence Day.

Meet a trailblazer whose impact continues to shape Indonesian media today: Roehana Koeddoes!

Source: Google doodle, Wikipedia

Also read: Charles K. Kao: Google doodle to honor godfather of broadband