Who are we?
The Kartini Network for Women's/Gender Studies in Asia was formally established in Manila in May 2003 after two years of preparation. Kartini, named after the Indonesian pioneering feminist writer and activist, aims to create synergy between women's/gender studies and feminist activism in the region.
Kartini members are women's/gender studies centres or institutes and feminist organizations in Asia and elsewhere.
The major objectives of the Kartini Network are to increase the knowledge base of the participating members, to strengthen their inter-disciplinary research skills, to contribute to the development of comparative and collaborative research programs that respond to the needs of women in the region and to create an open, flexible platform of exchange in the area of women's/gender studies between Asian scholars/activists working within academic institutes and in women's organizations through regular Kartini Network Asian Women's Studies conferences. Another issue Kartini members are concerned with is the training of gender trainers and policy-makers in the field of women's and gender issues at the operational level, sharing of methodologies and data exchange. Kartini strives to make Asian women's voices better heard in processes of nation-building and socio-economic development. The network also aims to incorporate women's rights in cultural and religious institutions and movements.
Kartini members recognize that the region is characterized by an unprecedented growth of fundamentalism, increasing economic insecurities, due to neo-liberal processes of globalization, as well as external and internal conflicts, wars and other forms of aggression, inclusing home-based violence against women. These crises are gendered and affect women in multiple ways. Within the Asian region, the initiatives developed by women's/gender studies institutes and the research undertaken by women's organizations may be seen as a collective response to the need for gender-sensitive and feminist-informed knowledge of society, new forms of gender analysis of social change, and of government intervention and development policy within the framework of ODA (Overseas Development Assistance). At the same time the women's movements which became a major social and political force in many countries since the 1980s have expressed the need for more data and better theories to support their work. The Kartini network will foster cooperation between academics and activists within the Asian region and with a few selected strategic partners in non-Asian countries who are working from a feminist perspective. Kartini members share a broad characterization of feminism, as based on an awareness of the multiple forms of women's subordination, oppression and exploitation, which are shaped by structural, both global and national socio-political, economic and ideological dimensions, as well as the willingness to change these relations of subordination.
The approach of Kartini research and activism is cross-cultural and comparative within the Asian context, incorporating both empirical work and theoretical reflection. Tailor-made advanced training courses are organized both in research methodologies and in women's theories around particular themes identified by the network.
Kartini is primarily an Asian network and considers as members women's studies and gender institutes/departments and women's organizations engaged in women's studies in Asia who commit themselves to the following principles:
Aside from members, it also includes individual affiliates who abide by the network's principles and have a track record of involvement, development or promotion of women's studies in Asia. Other institutions and agencies that can render service or participate in cooperative endeavors can be considered partners.
Kartini has an open, dynamic and flexible structure. The participating institutes all have their own dynamics, interests, capacities and needs. Each member institution of Kartini has a track record of credible work in women's studies and in gender and development in Asia. As such, a member institution brings to the network its capacities and activities that contribute in a meaningful way to the realization of Kartini's goals. Through the network, member institutions promote each other's programs, complement existing initiatives, and jointly build up projects of common interests.
Kartini members have identified five major themes of particular interest to the Asian region: These themes have been the topics for the two Asian-wide conferences so far, in Dalian, China in 2004, and in Bali in 2008: