Born in a small village in North Minahasa Regency on this day in 1872, Maramis was the youngest of three children. Orphaned at an early age, she was raised by an uncle along with her siblings. Maramis and her sister were offered only basic schooling because of their gender.
After moving to Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi province, she began writing an op-ed column in a local newspaper, Tjahaja Siang. Her writings emphasized the importance of mothers as caretakers of their family’s well-being, health care, and education.
Based on these principles, she founded the organization PIKAT, an Indonesian acronym for “Percintaan Ibu Kepada Anak Turunannya,” which translates as “The Love of a Mother Toward her Children.” PIKAT members learned essential household skills like cooking and sewing and caring for their children’s health. The organization expanded as far away as to Java where local women organized their own branches.
Turning her attention to politics, Maramis fought for women’s right to vote in choosing their representatives. Her efforts paid off in 1921 when the government allowed women to participate in elections. PIKAT’s work went on, aided by Maramis’ daughter Anna Matuli Walanda.
In 1969, in appreciation of her accomplishments on behalf of Indonesian women, the government decreed Maramis a National Hero. Her work towards the emancipation of women is celebrated on her birthday and a statue stands in her honor in the village of Komo Luar.
Happy Birthday, Maria Walanda Maramis!