Indonesian women’s group plays key role in national defense

Indonesian women’s group plays key role in national defense

Tom Abke

For 22 years, one of Indonesia’s largest women’s associations, Dharma Wanita Persatuan (DWP), has maintained a chapter linked to the country’s Ministry of Defense, known as Kemhan.

During that time, the chapter has supported the country’s people through such civic activities as blood drives and pandemic awareness and by supporting the morale and mental health of Indonesian women involved in micro- to medium-size enterprises.

By targeting women in business, DWP Kemhan can be “beneficial and bring blessings to families and the surrounding community,” Metty M. Herindra, DWP advisor to the Defense Ministry, said at a December 7, 2021, event commemorating the chapter’s anniversary and achievements.

Almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lost livelihoods and employment opportunities and increased mental health problems, Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia’s minister of tourism and creative economy, said in his keynote address. Many women have been forced to work from home or start home businesses, he added. “Therefore, mental health is very crucial in today’s conditions.”

Event speakers said DWP Kemhan will educate women about maintaining mental health and will focus on adjustments they need to make in a digital economy.

The chapter demonstrated its commitment to community service by organizing a mid-August 2021 webinar, titled “Defending the Country in a Pandemic Period,” that was watched by other chapters throughout Indonesia, Kemhan reported.

Herindra emphasized during the webinar the importance for “all parties to strengthen their fighting power in fighting and anticipating the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” Implementing health protocols, she added, needs to be done “as a reflection of defending the country.”

She outlined five measures for DWP Kemhan members: demonstrate the attitude and values of defending the country; enforce discipline by strictly adhering to health protocols; play an active role in inviting the community to get vaccinated; keep positive and have healthy thoughts; and lead a healthy lifestyle.

National defense was also the mission behind DWP Kemhan’s collaborative blood drive with Jakarta’s Gatot Soebroto Army Central Hospital in 2020, pictured. The chapter recruited donors from among Kemhan personnel, the hospital reported, thereby strengthening relations between the hospital and the Defense Ministry as well as increasing blood supplies.

DWP Kemhan began in 1999 as a chapter of the national association, Dharma Wanita Persatuan, or Women’s Unity Truth. That group grew out of Dharma Wanita, which was founded in 1974 as an organization for the wives of government personnel. Persatuan, meaning unity, was added to the name in 1998 when reforms made the association politically neutral.

Tom Abke is a FORUM contributor reporting from Singapore.