Contributor: Maroof Ahmed | Editor: Supriyono
In certain contexts, women still receive unequal treatment in the field of education. While in some way or another women face constraints to get educational access, the Universitas Islam Intenasional Indonesia (UIII) aims to break the barriers by providing a safe place for women—regardless of their backgrounds—to pursue education.
Prof. Dr. Nina Nurmila, the Dean of the Faculty of Education, says that in terms of educational access, UIII has provided fair treatment for both men and women, given the university employs a meritocratic system (merit-based) in selecting applicants. Yet, while the selection process has been fairly conducted, the most important thing is the services given to them during their studies.
In terms of service, on March 8, 2023—the day which women worldwide celebrate as International Women’s Day, UIII officially inaugurated a Daycare facility aimed at helping student parents ease their learning journeys. Initiated by the Faculty of Education given the significant number of student moms in the faculty, this facility is located at the university’s main library and runs in collaboration with MMI Indonesia.
In his opening remark, the Rector of UIII Prof. Komaruddin Hidayat highlighted the notable problem faced by local and international students who are parents, saying that this could hamper their academic journey, especially if the parents are both students.
“The big problem faced by students, particularly who are married is how to manage their families and children whilst they are studying. We are going into a long journey [with this facilitation], but we start today with the first step [the daycare facility],” the Rector said.
Syifa Mufiedatussalam, a student mom who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree at UIII, expressed her gratitude for this facilitation, saying that the daycare is so helpful for her since she has a newly-born 3-weeks old child. “I can study without worrying about my son because [I believe] he is in the right hands,” she said.
The same narrative was conveyed by Mahmood and his wife—both UIII students—who come to Indonesia from Afghanistan with their child. "Being a student and a parent of a one-year-old is a daunting experience while pursuing a Ph.D. abroad. We had to take turns attending classes while taking care of our child. We cannot articulate how grateful we are [with the daycare facility],” Mahmood said.
Commenting on the inauguration of the Daycare facility, Prof. Nurmila highlights the daycare facility is part of UIII’s commitment to supporting women’s rights to education, and that being a mother should not stop women to pursue their education.
“This [daycare facilitation] is in response to the gender construction that [it is] women who take care of the children. Because of that, we provide a support system [for them] to allow, for example, breastfeeding mom to breastfeed their children within [the] campus, and at the same time, allow others to take care of their baby or children while they are studying,” Prof. Nurmila said.
In the future, the dean expected to see at the UIII premises more suitable facilities that could cater to the needs of women in their pursuit of education. This could be in the form of more feminine sports facilities such as Yoga and aerobics.
On International Women’s Day, Prof. Nurmila also calls for more collaborative action for women, highlighting the importance of women supporting women by which the “empowered women” should help other women who are in subordinate or disadvantaged positions.
“In patriarchal culture, we need to erase the Misogynistic attitude, [that is] hatred toward women. [In this regard], hatred toward women is sometimes strongly hauled by women themselves, so let’s try not to be that [type of women],” concluded the dean.
As a newly-established university, UIII aims to provide a safe educational atmosphere that supports inclusive education for all including gender-sensitive groups such as women. In this university, women are given every right to access or be part of the education itself, be it as students, lecturers, staff, faculty members, or even in the leadership positions such as the dean and head of the program.