An Insidious Lie: "Women Are Weak!"

Atalya is proving that women can be as successful as men.

By Vera Aurima With Kyle Davidson
Photos by Vera Aurima

Still today, in many parts of Southeast Asia and specifically Indonesia, women are expected to be submissive, obedient and dependent upon their husbands.

Girls are expected to marry young, have children and work — exclusively — as homemakers. For many women, this can be a fulfilling life choice. But the problem remains that systemic and cultural pressures actively discourage girls from getting their education simply because of the belief that education has no value in daily homemaking duties.

It’s also indicative of a more dangerous belief: that women are somehow inferior or less valuable to society than men. It perpetuates the lie that women are weak. And it leaves them vulnerable to situations of abuse or exploitation.

That’s why wherever Compassion and child sponsors serve alongside the local church, promoting the equal rights of girls to receive an education is a big priority.

Education is closely connected to confidence in self-reliance. And self-reliance empowers women to contribute their talents and abilities to prosper, whether at home or in the workforce.

Though she didn’t used to believe it, the importance of education is a lesson that 39-year-old Yuliana has been learning through the parenting classes she’s been taking at the Compassion center her three daughters attend in Indonesia. Education has become a fundamental value that she is now committed to fostering in her girls.

Yuliana works in a nearby kindergarten. She earns the equivalent of only $36 per month, which is nowhere near enough to provide for her three daughters. Ever since her husband abandoned the family in 2011, they have been living with Yuliana’s elderly parents, so they at least have a roof over their heads. But it’s only because her three daughters attend the local Compassion center that she has any hope for their future.

“I am so grateful that my daughters are registered at the Compassion center. The center pays for 80% of their school fees. I have hope for my children because I’m not alone in working to provide them a bright future,” Yuliana says. 

Her oldest daughter, 16-year-old Atalya, has been particularly receptive. Atalya loves school, she has a passion for learning business, and she’s even begun baking cookies and cakes to sell in her community while she helps earn money to pay for school and provide for the family.

“My family’s financial condition prompted me to be creative and develop my small business,” Atalya says. “But more than that, I love the business of making cakes and cookies. I want to prove to my Compassion sponsor, my family and the people in my community that women can be as successful as men.”

And with every cookie and cake that she sells, Atalya is setting the example for the other girls in her community, showing them that a commitment to further education can empower them to be strong.

To find out more about how you can support the educational opportunities for young girls living in poverty, read about Compassion’s Educational Needs Fund here.

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. — Isaiah 1:17, NIV