Gender Equality in Indonesia’s Military Academy

by Guinandra Jatikusumo


37 years after the United States Military Academy at West Point started admitting female cadets as their students, The Republic of Indonesia’s Military Academy at Magelang recently announced that it will start accepting female cadets–known as tarunis–for this year’s applicants (equivalent to members of the Class of 2017).

Priorities are given to high school students with previous background or experience in military and semi-military trainings, such as graduates of my high school, Taruna Nusantara SHS, and former members of Indonesia’s national flag hoisting team.

Unlike the case at West Point whereby the decision was mainly based on the passage of the Equal Right Amendments in 1972, there seems to be no particular recent regulatory reform in Indonesia that preceded this historical decision. It was formalized after members affiliated with the Indonesian military consensually deemed the promotion of gender equality within the military academy as important. Quoting a paraphrase from Major General Istu Hari Subagio regarding the decision, “the acceptance of female cadets [to the academy] is a realization of the Indonesia’s military’s effort to achieve gender equality. They will be educated together with the male cadets (tarunas), at the same place, with the same academic courses.”

Irrelevant side note: the U.S. is also currently dealing with an issue related to equality—marriage equality. Listen to the SCOTUS’ oral argument of Windsor v. United States here. Download the transcript of the hearing here.