Abigail Limuria and Grace Kadiman were chitchatting when the idea struck them. They realized that there aren’t many women who girls and Indonesian women can look up to because they simply never being put on the map.
“I have never even idolize an Indonesian figure because I always thought that inspiring people are those who aren’t from or based here. I’ve never associated being Indonesian with pride,” said Limuria.
These thoughts motivated them to put a spotlight, especially on Indonesian female figures, in an effort to inspire Indonesian little girls to understand that they, too, have what it takes to be as awesome as the 51 women featured in the illustrated storybook Lalita: 51 Cerita Perempuan Hebat Indonesia, or Lalita: 51 Stories of Indonesia Great Women.
Lalita features 51 women who have different backgrounds and professions but have all achieved great things for Indonesia. Lalita was written and illustrated to make little girls of Indonesia proud of their identity as Indonesians and dare to dream big, as well as to celebrate the diversity and achievements of these stigma-defying women.
“The word ‘Lalita’ is derived from Sanskrit that means valuable, beautiful, playful, and talkative. For us, Laila represents Indonesian women with ambitions, intelligence, who are tough, and unlimited. We want to redefine beauty and what’s considered interesting in Indonesian culture” said Kadiman.
The research that the two writers done to compile the story was done for two years. Both Limuria and Kadiman met and interviewed all 51 women in the storybook, shorten the stories into digestible narratives put in one book, each with accompanying illustrations from up and coming illustrators that the country has.
Childhood and what shapes it matters, at least that’s what the positive responses the book that’s just wrapped up its launching exhibition in Plaza Indonesia on August 9 - 18 resonated.
“Adults can still remember well what was their dreams growing up, and often it comes with regrets that they didn’t end up pursuing it. By reading these stories, I hope that more girls are inspired to pursue their passion, whatever it is, because there’s no such thing as lowly profession as long as it is what they love to do,” said Butet Manurung, the founder of Sokola Rimba, a school dedicated to educate isolated children that live in the deep part of Borneo forests, and one of 51 women who’s portrayed in the book.
Both male and female illustrators are being involved in this project, to help capture the essence of each figure in a colorful message and to also showcase the public that there are great illustrators in the country. Lalita finished up as a tale of art because of the concept.
“Lalita helps illustrators to support each other because it gave the artists an opportunity to collaborate. We all tell and represent different stories from different figures, all with different style of art, but all come up together in harmony,” said Kathrin Honesta, one of the illustrators that also design the book cover.