Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jennifer L. Foray

Committee Chair

Jennifer L. Foray

Committee Member 1

Whitney Walton

Committee Member 2

Evie Blackwood

Committee Member 3

Margaret Tillman


From 1900-1972, housewife organizations in the Netherlands Indies and Indonesia assisted the population of the archipelago in adapting to the political upheaval that attended Indonesia's national liberation from the Netherlands. Under the Ethical Policy (1900-1942), the Association of Housewives sought to "uplift" indigenous society in the Netherlands Indies through teaching women household management skills including proper sanitation, hygiene, and food preservation methods. Through educational and social welfare initiatives, Dutch housewives maintained the Netherlands' control over the territory while promoting Dutch development efforts. At the same time, the Indonesian women's movement aligned with the Indonesian nationalist movement, as exemplified in the 1928 First Indonesian Women's Congress. Conference speakers encouraged women to embrace their roles as wives and mothers in order to support the nationalist movement, believing that Indonesian independence would grant them equal rights and provide for their families' welfare. ^ The Second World War shifted women's activities while reconfirming the important roles they played as mothers of the nation. The Commission for the Organization of Female Labor During Mobilization (COVIM) prepared European women for possible invasion of the Indies. Upon Japanese occupation of the East Indies, women's organizations dissolved and were replaced by Japanese-led Fujinkai. This organization continued promoting the role of women in national development as it provided for society's needs during wartime and laid the foundation for postwar women's activism. Amidst the unstable years of 1945-1949, the Association of Housewives in Indonesia strove to create a national identity that incorporated women from diverse backgrounds. By engaging in social welfare activities together, women in Indonesia displayed their common devotion to improving the archipelago's welfare. ^ During Sukarno's administration as President of Indonesia, housewives in the 1950s and early 1960s supported national ideologies that promoted Pancasila. Perwari demonstrated its commitment to the Indonesian government through its activities that aligned directly with Pancasila's five principles. Under Guided Democracy, women continued to support Sukarno's leadership while growing frustrated with his inattention to family and societal needs. Ultimately, Guided Democracy did not provide the reform and prosperity it had promised, and housewife organizations turned towards home economics education as a means to secure their family's welfare. By promoting family welfare and effective household management, housewives supported national development. ^ Suharto's New Order eliminated most women's organizations and streamlined women's activism into a movement called Family Welfare Development ( Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga or PKK). PKK's existence resulted from the work of housewife organizations in previous decades and aligned with women's commitment to fulfilling their responsibilities as wives and mothers in ways that nurtured national development.