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Maria Walanda Maramis: National Movement Heroine
Maria Walanda Maramis is one of Indonesia's heroines who contributed in developing the condition of Indonesian women in early 20th century. She was awarded the Hero of National Movement by Indonesian government on May 20, 1969. A statue to commemorate her has been built in Komo Luar, Wenang, North Sulawesi. Every December 1, Minahasa people celebrate the day of Ibu Maria Walanda Maramis.

Maria was a figure who was considered as a tradition breaker, a fighter of woman advancement and emancipation in politics and education. According to Nicholas Graafland, in a publication of Nederlandsche Zendeling Genootschap in 1981, Maria was titled as the role model of Minahasa woman with a special talent to know about anything in order to expand her knowledge, a fast learner that made her often more advance than men.


One of her effort to break tradition was when a regional representative body for Minahasa people was established in 1919, which was called the Minahasa Raad. At the beginning, the members were determined, but an election by the people was planned for the next representative members. Only men were allowed to be the representative members, but Maria fight for women rights to vote for their representatives. Maria's effort succeeded in 1921, which a decision came from Batavia stated that women were allowed give their votes for Minahasa Raad.
Maria Josephine Catherine Maramis was born in Kema, North Sulawesi on December 1, 1872 and passed away in Maumbi, North Sulawesi on April 22, 1924, at the age of 51. Her parents were Maramis and Sarah Rotinsulu. Maria was the youngest of three children. Her elder sister was Antje and her younger brother was Andries. On the age of 6, Maria lost both of her parents who died because of illness. Maria's uncle, Rotinsulu, who was the Chief District of Maumbi, took these three children and raised them in Maumbi. Maria and her sister were schooled in Sekolah Melayu in Maumbi, which taught basic knowledge such as reading and writing as well as a little science and history. This school was the only formal education received by Maria and her sister, because women, at that time, were expected to marry sooner and take care of their family. Maria was married to Joseph Frederick Caselung Walanda, who was a language teacher, in 1890 and since she was better known as Maria Walanda Maramis.

Maria also wrote opinions in a local newspaper named Tjahaja Siang in Manado. Her articles pointed out the importance of mother's role in a family, emphasizing that a mother has obligations to take care and maintain the health of family members  as well as providing early education for their children.

Realizing that young women needed to be equipped to play their role as the family caregiver, Maria and few others established an organization named “Percintaan Ibu Kepada Anak Temurunannya (PIKAT-The Love of A Mother to Her Children)” on July 8, 1917. The purpose of this organization was to educate women of elementary school graduates on household matters such as cooking, sewing, baby cares, hand craft and many others. During Maria's leadership, PIKAT grew and had branches in Minahasa region such as in Maumbi, Tondano and Motoling. Mothers in Java were also established PIKAT's branches in several cities such as in Batavia, Bogor, Bandung, Magelang and Surabaya. On June 2, 1918, PIKAT set up the Manado school. Maria remained active in PIKAT until she passed away in April 22, 1924.

(Source 1; Source 2)
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