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Roehana Koeddoes, ca. 1900
20 December 1884
Agam, West Sumatra,
|Died||17 August 1972(aged 87)|
Roehana Koeddoes (December 20, 1884 – August 17, 1972) was the first female Indonesian journalist, founder of the Sunting Melayu newspaper, and an activist for women's emancipation. Born in a village in Agam, West Sumatra, she was taught at home by her father. After learning crafts before her marriage, she became interested in teaching such skills to women and providing for their overall education. She established a school in 1911, and in 1912 founded the newspaper, intended for women. She was its chief editor.
Roehana was born in village of Koto Gadang, Agam, the hinterland of West Sumatra. Her father Mohammad Rasjad Maharaja Soetan was an advisor to the Sultan of Deli. Roehana was a half-sister of Sutan Sjahrir and also a cousin of Agus Salim. Roehana was intelligent although she did not receive a formal education. She often studied with her father, who taught her in reading and language studies. When her father was assigned to Alahan Panjang, North Sumatra, she asked her Dutch neighbors to teach her household skills such as knitting and weaving.
Marriage and family
In 1908, when she was 24 years old, Roehana married Abdul Koeddoes, a notary public. Abdul Koeddoes was supportive of his wife's effort to educate women.
Creating a school
On February 11, 1911, Roehana Koeddoes decided to found a school for women, specifically to teach them crafts and skills beyond their ordinary household duties. During this time, she faced opposition from numerous sources who were resistant to change and advancement of women. With the support of her husband, Koeddoes persisted and eventually persuaded people to her side.
The school, named Sekolah Kerajinan Amai Setia, became a center for artisans to work with the Dutch government on sales of their work in major cities and overseas. It was the only craft producer that met the international standards of purchase.
Skilled in writing, Koeddoes did not stop with teaching women crafts. She believed in educating women as a whole. The following year, she started Sunting Melayu, a newspaper with women as its intended audience. Koeddoes was chief editor, assisted by Zubaidah Ratna Djuwita.