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Diversity as a Unifying Tool

"Diversity is like a flower garden. Just like its name, it is known to be beautiful because there are flowers with various colors and types. We should learn from this flower garden how to spread beauty with togetherness," said Sister Scolastika, the representative of Sumenep Catholic Women of the Republic of Indonesia (WKRI). This statement was conveyed during the Interfaith Social Service event in  Sumenep, Friday (3/8).

This event was carried out with the purpose of gluing and realizing a joint commitment of religious communities in Sumenep as well as celebrating the International Women's Day. The event was initiated by the women’s group committee of the Wahid Foundation.

Some of the event activities were giving charity to orphans and impoverished children and sharing universal values on diversity presented by religious leaders and a women’s group representative in Sumenep. The religious leaders presenting were Hj. Shulhah from Sumenep Branch (PC) Fatayat Nahdlatul Ulama, as the Muslim representative; Imam Santoso from Sumenep  Interreligious Harmony Forum (FKUB), as the Confucian representative; Sister Skolastika from WKRI, as the Catholic representative; and from Hasbiyah from Sumber Makmur Group, as the women’s group representative.

In the value-sharing activity, Hasbiyah said regarding the diversity issue, that there was so much diversity, not only  diversity in faith but also diversity in decision making.

The mother from Payudan Dundang Village said that her village was one of the villages that had declared themselves as Peace Villages. Since then, there have been many significant advances related to empowerment. "We do a lot of activities in an effort to realize a Peace Village. We encourage women not to be passive. When they are in a forum, they can take a role so that they can take part in the decision-making process (musyawarah mufakat). Now, women are no longer marginalized," explained Hasbiyah.

Experiences with regard to diversity and the acceptance of diversity are the central theme in this interfaith social service event. Actually these religious differences should not distance us, but instead act as a tool that makes us closer.

"There are many national figures that we should emulate, such as Gus Dur. He taught us the nature of human beings and human dignity. Whatever our background are, we are basically equal and balanced," said Sutima S.Ag, Chairperson of the Interfaith Social Service Committee. Speaking of the International Women's Day, Sutima encouraged women to keep being passionate in integrating energy and productivity as present-day Kartinis.

By: Ester Pandiangan


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