Indonesia’s first female clerics’ congress kicked off on Tuesday with around 700 participants – which included academics – from across the nation and several Muslim-majority countries.
The congress aims to boost the role of female clerics in disseminating Islamic teachings in line with social values and nationalism.
Organizers said they had to turn down 500 applicants due to capacity restrictions, but many still turned up to the venue at Pondok Pesantren Kebon Jambu Al Islamy, an Islamic boarding school in Cirebon, West Java.
“Many residents and other nearby pesantren [Islamic boarding schools] have prepared to accommodate visitors,” said organizer Ninik Rahayu, formerly of the National Commission for Women against Violence (Komnas Perempuan).
The congress, which ends Thursday, is held by three Islamic civil organization, comprising Fahmina Foundation, an affiliation of Wahid Institute, Islamic study center Rahima and family rights group Alimat.
The event’s theme can “be narrowed down to three major issues: child marriage, sexual violence against women as well as environmental damage” contributing to social inequality, said Ninik, a commissioner of the Indonesian Ombudsman.
These are issues that participating clerics believe are most relevant in their respective communities, she added. (Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)