The activities of the Fatayat and Muslimat also involve empowering the wider community. In this era of democracy, female Nahdliyin are usually seen contesting for public office.
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Eleven women have been appointed to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) executive board, as announced on Wednesday (12/1/2022). This breakthrough is both interesting and promising.
According to NU chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf, three of the 11 women, namely Nyai Shinta Nuriyah A. Wahid, Nyai Nafisah Sahal Mahfudz and Nyai Machfudhoh Aly Ubaid, have been appointed as Mustasyar (advisors). Five have been appointed as A’wan (companions to Syria), namely Nafisah Ali Maksum, Badriyah Fayumi, Ida Fatimah Zainal, Masriyah Anva and Faizah Ali Sibromalisi, while the remaining three, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, Alissa Qotrunnada Wahid and Ai Rahmayanti, have been appointed as Tanfidziyah, executives in charge of daily operations.
Previously, women were only part of NU’s autonomous bodies, such as Fatayat (the NU youth wing for women) and Muslimat (the NU women’s wing).
The inclusion of women in the NU’s management ranks for the 2022-2027 period is seen as a breakthrough since the organization’s establishment in 1926. Moreover, some are executives of the organization, with two appointed as chairpersons and one as a deputy secretary-general. Previously, women were only part of NU’s autonomous bodies, such as Fatayat (the NU youth wing for women) and Muslimat (the NU women’s wing).
According to Gus Yahya, NU needs female members to help address bigger issues, especially issues related to women, and it was only a matter of time until female figures emerged in the organization’s management (Kompas, 13/1/2022).
This explanation confirms what is happening in the field. Women have important roles in many life aspects of Nadhliyin (NU members). At pesantren (Islamic boarding schools), for example, Nyai (female members) not only help Kiai (scholars) with domestic affairs but also manage girls’ boarding schools, as well as develop classes. Women also seem to manage a variety of the organization’s public activities.
The activities of the Fatayat and Muslimat also involve empowering the wider community. In this era of democracy, female Nahdliyin are usually seen contesting for public office. Some have been elected as members of the legislature, governors, mayors and regents, while others have been appointed as state ministers. One example is Khofifah, who was a member of the House of Representatives and a former minister, and now serves as the East Java Governor (2019-2024).
With the presence of women in the NU management, the mass organization is expected to have a more gender-oriented perspective in responding to social dynamics and making important decisions, especially since there are many contemporary issues related to women. Sexual violence against women still continues to occur in certain areas, as well as domestic violence. The government is also pushing to pass the Sexual Violence Bill.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, women have continued to play a vital role in maintaining household resilience as regards health, education, economy and mental health. Additionally, as regards terrorism, women are also one of the pillars for early anticipation of radicalization in a family environment.
We await the realization of these hopes through NU’s performance.