Ann Kull


This article argues that the ongoing introduction of a gender perspective in Indonesian Islamic education is challenging the partially unconscious patriarchal gender regime of these institutions and a means of resisting traditional notions of religious authority. The activities of female teachers, scholars and researchers are instrumental in these endeavors. This study draws on empirical material collected through fieldwork in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Banjarmasin, and Bandung, and includes brochures, books, course literature, research, interviews, and discussions. Data is primarily collected from state institutes for higher Islamic education and especially at their respective Centers for Women Studies. This material constitutes examples of how female, and male, religious scholars and teachers challenge the prevailing gender bias in Islamic education on all levels by introducing a gender perspective in curriculum, teaching, and textbooks, but also in their roles as exemplars and religious authorities. I argue that these measures are important in creating gender awareness among Muslim students. However, to successfully challenge the structures of Islamic education, several conditions have to be met: producing less gender-biased Islamic interpretations, an academic climate that is open to inclusion of these interpretations in Islamic education on various levels, increasing the number of female teachers, and sufficient economic funding. Some of these prerequisites are already being met in the case of Indonesia.

Author Biography

Ann Kull, PhD, is a researcher at the Center for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University and works on a project, financed by the Swedish Research Council, called Islam, Women’s Rights and Society Development in Indonesia. She is also a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University, where she teaches contemporary South-East Asian studies and works on a project called Islamic Feminism in Indonesia: Islamic Education and Change of attitude among Muslim Youth.