Anywhere in Indonesia you will find that 70% of the bikers are women, and 80% of all small businesses are run by women. All guides who speak English at the Sultan’s palace in Yogyakarta are women, and nearly all looking after the ancient Stupa at Borobodur are women. Rarely do we associate a ‘hijab’ (a scarf covering head of a woman) with the dignity of labor. Indonesia certainly is a pleasant exception.
How did this magic happen? Socially, Indonesia still follows a strictly matrilineal code. Islam here was never an import of the conquerors as Indonesia was never conquered before the Dutches came in 1800. Indian traders first brought into Indonesia in the Majapahit period in late 13th century the epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and these two epics still define Indonesian culture in all its forms. Because of a very lyrical message of living in a somewhat equal society these two epics radiate, equality comes to Indonesians just as a matter of fact.