Thank you. This award is very special to me. Joan Dunlop and Adrienne Germaine taught me what I know about feminist activism and women’s rights. Joan was very serious about fighting for women’s health and their rights. But what I remember most is how humorous she was, full of energy, always joking and laughing.
I first met Joan Dunlop in 1986, while I worked as a family planning and abortion counselor at the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association. Until that time, I had never received a formal training on family planning and abortion. As a psychologist, I just used my psychological capacity plus observing how the doctors do their work at the clinic. IWHC, through the Ford Foundation, greatly improved the quality of our clinics, and brought ob-gyns from the US to come and train doctors and midwives. And through this process, it’s improved my understanding of women’s health rights.
I was so fortunate to accompany Joan as she visited a number of big cities in Indonesia. I was so privileged to be near her at the clinics, when I’d be her translator, during breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel, and also during flights. It was like having a private coaching and training from Joan herself; a private training that she continued after she left Indonesia.
She always invited me to have a private meeting, just the two of us or with Adrienne, whenever I visited New York, either in a special restaurant or in her private apartment in upper Manhattan, where she used to cook for me herself.
I admired her so much. She was my role model and also my first mentor for these special issues. Especially when I decided to leave the clinic work, and be an independent consultant. She never failed to support me morally, and financially. Joan and the Coalition supported my work in Vietnam, to strengthen women’s unions there. They helped me also to establish the Women’s Health Foundation in 2001, and today we still work to achieve legal protection for the sexual and reproductive health of women, adolescents, and young people.
I have incorporated her wisdom, her principals to my work. Her important words, that I would always keep in mind, is that we need to focus and invest most of ourselves to develop human capital, especially women. Joan said that we must always keep “sustained intent:” those were her words. “Sustained intent” in order to stay focused in our struggle.
When I was informed that the Coalition chose me to receive this award, I said to Francoise: “I don’t deserve this. There are many other women that deserve it.” But she refused to listen to my plea. Then I thought: how can I refuse to have Joan in my home, and in my heart? She is a symbol of my strength. Don’t cry!
Receiving this award at this time, when the road ahead is still long and unclear, and so much more work needs to be done in Indonesia to insure our health and rights, it is just what I needed most.
Thank you to the Coalition for granting me with the most valuable gift in my life. So this is my last word: Joan, please rest well. We assure you that we will continue your spirit and work, and many young women all over the world will continue your work.