Alums Biography

Senior Journalist: Herawati Diah

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Herawati Diah ’41. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Siti Latifah Herawati Diah was born on April 3, 1917 in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung. She was born into an upper-class priyayi family, granting her the opportunity of enjoying a high education and privileged, western lifestyle. Diah attended the Europeesche Lagere School in Salemba, Central Jakarta for primary school and later attended high school at the American High School in Tokyo. Influenced by her mother, Diah decided to further her studies in America while other intellectuals had their eyes set on either the Netherlands or Western Europe. Prior to attending Barnard, where “the seeds of her Journalism career take root, ” Diah studied English with a host family for two years. In 1941, Diah graduated from Barnard and became the first Indonesian woman to be academically trained abroad in a respected American university. She also completed a journalism course at Stanford University in the midst of her principal studies of sociology at Barnard and UC Berkley.


Diah finally returned home to Indonesia in 1942, which was on the brink of war, and became a freelance reporter for the United Press International (UPI) newswire before taking on a position as announcer for Hosokyoku radio. She later married the legendary journalist Burhanuddin Mohammad “BM” Diah, who was working for the Asia Raya newspaper at the time, in that same year and had three children in 1945.

In 1968, BM Diah gained the role of minister of information, for which Diah quit journalism to pursue the new role by his side and represent Indonesia to the world. In pursuit of guarding her homeland’s culture, Diah led Borobudur Temple to being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also established foundations, such as Indonesian Cultural Partners to protect treasures and textiles, Indonesian Women’s Association and others, which raised political awareness in women. She persistently continued to shed light on women’s concerns in the 1990s.


Diah and her husband were known as the giants of Indonesian journalism of the 1945 Generation, otherwise believe to be the nation’s “Greatest Generation,” along with Rosihan Anwar and Mochtar Lubis. Diah also founded The Indonesian Observer, Indonesia’s only English newspaper (until the 1960s) providing her people with a means to report their struggles, and launched it on the eve of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference which was held in Bandung. Furthermore, Diah founded the Movement toward Education of Women Voters (Gerakan Perempuan Sadar Pemilu), now the Women’s Voice Empowerment Movement (Gerakan Pemberdayaan Swara Perempuan)–a movement to empower the voice of women,–aiming to provide political education for women to promote the use of their rights to vote according to their consciousness. Diah also earned recognition from then education minister Anies Baswedan for her contribution to promoting United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization programs in Indonesia.

Siti Latifah Herawati Diah passed away on September 30, 2016, at the humble age of 99.


An Endless Journey: Reflections of an Indonesian Journalist (2005)


“Journalism is a profession which is not only exciting, adventurous and sometimes even dangerous, but most of all satisfying because a journalist not only informs the public what is happening on the national or international level on a daily basis, but also she or he can influence the reader to choose what is best for them.”

“Be strong, eat healthy—but not too much—live well and sleep well with no worries.” – secrets to longevity.

“At most, please regard this book as a record of events in which I was involved.”

Aziza Rahman ’20


Collins, Gale G. “An Endless Journey: Reflections of an Indonesian Journalist.” Indonesiaexpat,, May 20, 2014, accessed July 9, 2018,

Firmanto, Danang. “Senior Journalist Herawati Diah Passes Away at 99.”, Tempo Inti Media Tbk, September 30, 2016, accessed July 9, 2018,

News Desk. “Senior journo Herawati Diah passes away.” The Jakarta Post, PT. Niskala Media Tenggara, September 30, 2016, accessed July 9,2018,

Sumayku, Jeannifer Filly. “A Journey of an Inspiring Woman: Herawati Diah.” The President Post,, June 21, 2010, accessed July 9, 2018,