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Indonesian Memory Institutions Examine Gender Equality in Documentary Heritage

Only four out of 155 inscriptions from Asia and the Pacific for the Memory of the World (MOW) Registers can be considered as documentary heritage that contributes to gender equality.

This was one of the key findings of a recent baseline study published by UNESCO. The figure mirrors other regions as well. It is one of the reasons that an online focus group discussion to identify documentary heritage that promotes gender equality was organized on 26 October 2020. The event was organized by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia, LIPI) who is serving as the Chair of the Indonesian MOW Committee, and Indonesia National Archives (Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia, ANRI) with the support of UNESCO.

“Archives are important heritage for all people that can help society move forward” and to “avoid collective amnesia” said Ms Multi Siswati, Deputy Head of Conservation, ANRI who spoke at the opening of the event.

This sentiment was echoed by Dr Mego Pinandito, Head of Indonesian MOW Committee, who also expressed confidence that Indonesia “can identify many documentary heritage that promotes gender equality through this exercise.”

The objective of the focus group discussion is to identify documentary heritage in Indonesia that contributes to gender equality using the Gender Equality Markers that measure the extent to which documentary heritage contributed to the promotion of gender equality.

As one of UNESCO’s global priorities, gender equality is required to be integrated across all of the Organization’s programmes, processes and policies including the MOW Programme through two distinct but complementary approaches: gender mainstreaming; and gender-specific initiatives.

The speakers for the event included Dr Yulfita Raharjo (expert on gender issues), Dr Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi (expert on gender and politics), Dr Mona Lohanda (Indonesian historian and archivist), as well as Dr Ming-Kuok Lim (Advisor for Communication and Information for UNESCO Jakarta).
Some of the preliminary documentary heritage that were deliberated included the famous Kartini Letters (1879-1904) and the archives from the First Indonesian Women Congress (1928).

UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Impetus came originally from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world.

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