Indonesian Women Ulama Congress (KUPI) II – 2022: Affirming the Roles of Women Ulama in Peace

Indonesian Women Ulama Congress (KUPI) II – 2022: Affirming the Roles of Women Ulama in Peace

KUPI is a groundbreaking movement of Indonesian women ulama that aims to build an Islamic civilisation that treats women and men equally. KUPI takes place every five years, starting in 2017. This year, one of the themes covered is the role of women in maintaining peace from the dangers of violence in the name of the state is one of the themes of discussion. In general, women are associated only as victims of violent extremism, even though in recent years, women have become perpetrators of violent extremism. 

Therefore, the thematic discussions at the KUPI’s international and national sessions try to affirm the role of women as peacebuilders and how to engage religion against threats of violent extremism. Furthermore, according to one of KUPI initiators, Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah (AMAN Indonesia), the event aims to raise the standard for the global movement of women clerics. Hence, the international session invites representatives from 31 countries to jointly discuss how women’s peacebuilding efforts can use religion to promote gender justice and social peace in Muslim-majority countries. 

At the international conference at Semarang, three speakers shared their views on methodology and their own experiences regarding peacebuilding from a woman’s perspective. Two speakers from Indonesia, Misbah Zulfa Elizabeth and Inayah Rochmaniyah (UIN Sunan Kalijaga and Walisongo), discuss the methodology, which focuses on the inclusive reading of religious and intellectual resources. The third speaker, Hamsatu Allamin (Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development Nigeria), shares about the lack of education and credible voices from women and men ulama as having contributed to the radicalisation of youth in rural areas. If KUPI can offer a way to reinforce the importance of religious and intellectual education, she believes extremist movements can diminish.

Meanwhile, the national congress at Jepara has three sessions: thematic discussion, pre-discussion and discussion results presentation. The theme of the role of women in protecting the country from the dangers of religious extremism was attended by representatives of the government, non-governmental organisations, and academics both domestically and abroad. Various arguments from women who were directly present in the thematic discussions expressed concerns about the lack of economic support for women at the grassroots countering violent extremist groups narration that holds youths in rural areas of West Nusa Tenggara.

KUPI board members collect various concerns and inputs from its participants to be discussed in their discussion session. The result for the subject of women and violent extremism is as follows: 1) KUPI declares that it is compulsory for every citizen to defend Indonesia from the threats of extremism in the name of religion, 2) It is forbidden for government institutions, civilians, social and religious organisations to marginalise the role of women that can cause violent extremism in Indonesia, 3) Declares all parties are responsible for any kinds of violence in the name of religion, especially the state and its authorities, religious and social institutions, business, civil society, family and media.

KUPI received a good reception from several participants and observers interviewed on the event’s final day. First, a teacher and women ulama herself as one of the respective participants, named Siti Sadira (56, from Pesantren Muslimin Indonesia Center Samarinda), finds that the KUPI event is crucial as it provides space to address social issues through an Islamic lens. While Muhammad Ammar (University of Queensland), as an academic scholar, appreciates what KUPI did for addressing violence against women from the perspective of women ulama into the light as it has not been generally spoken about. In the last segment, Alfi Ramadhani (Mitra Wacana), an observer from CSO, said that not just discussing gender equality, KUPI managed to bring over social issues that resonate with women, especially protection towards women against violence.