Indonesia Activate Talk: “The Role of Young People in Addressing Child Rights and Disparities in Indonesia”

On November 20, UNICEF Indonesia convened a series of curated talks by 5 young speakers (all of them around 25 years of age) who reflected on the importance and impact of the CRC and human rights in general in their lives. These young speakers showcased successful ideas and innovations they have put into use to achieve results, reflected on their childhood experiences as child rights advocates, and talked about their goals and aspirations moving forward. The speakers included:


  1.  Agrita Widiasari, Chairwoman of Sinergi Muda, a prominent youth organization working on innovations, partnering with UNICEF for U-Report who focused on participation rights;
  2.  Iman Usman, a member of the West Sumatra Child Forum, 2009 winner of the Indonesia Young Leaders Award (KPPPA-UNICEF) and founder of Indonesian Future Leaders, an NGO working on youth empowerment for social changes; she  focused on education as the primary subject;
  3.  Melan Meranti Helga, a Youth Advocate of Papua Barat, member of the Papua Youth Forum, who works on Access to Health Care for/with Out of School Adolescents. She shared her experiences while focusing on healthcare;
  4.  Setia Perdana, Coordinator of a community based organization named Focus Muda, who are part of Indonesia’s YKAPs and work together to promote young people’s understanding on HIV/AIDS and access to health care services. As one of the participants representing Indonesia at the recently held global AIDS Conference in Melbourne earlier this year, Setia focused on issues of stigma and protection from discrimination;
  5.  Yudi Setiyadi, An online community journalist, coordinator of Pena Desa (an online media community for villagers at Purwokerto) and an active blogger,  focused on the importance of having access to quality information and being able to express one’s opinion.

Indonesia celebrates children’s rights with innovative solutions to development challenges

Toshi Nakamura, CEO and Co-Founder of non-profit organization Kopernik

Toshi Nakamura, CEO and Co-Founder of non-profit organization Kopernik

JAKARTA, 24 April 2014 – UNICEF Indonesia brought together a number of leading innovators at an event in Jakarta’s Erasmus Huis on Wednesday to present their ideas on how to tackle some of the key challenges children continue to face in this booming South-East Asian economy.  

The TED-style event, called ‘ACTIVATE talks’, was part of UNICEF’s celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). UNICEF has also declared 2014 the “Year of Innovations and Equity”.

“We need the zeal and energy of this country’s innovators, entrepreneurs, adventurers and risk takers to think out of the box and support the Indonesian government in ensuring that children and young people have what they need to fulfil their rights and achieve their dreams,” said UNICEF Representative in Indonesia, Angela Kearney during the opening of the event.

The group of innovators included five speakers who work on new ways to improve access to education and energy, to promote breastfeeding and to combat malaria.


The speakers addressing questions received via twitter.  © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

The speakers addressing questions received via twitter.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

Anies Baswedan, the 44-year-old President of Paramadina University in Jakarta, chairs an NGO called Indonesia Mengajar (Teaching Indonesia) that recruits young, educated Indonesians to teach in remote and inaccessible parts of the country.
“We realised many young people want to help improve the quality of education for others but they don’t want to make a lifetime commitment,” he said. “So we started thinking outside of the box and we set up a system where well-educated, intelligent young people could teach in remote areas for just a few months or years. When they move on, we send another young person to replace them.”

In the health sector, Dr. Ahmad Aziz has carried out pioneering work with isolated coastal communities in Northern Maluku to help them find solutions to the problem of malaria. Their answers included draining lagoons and tackling mosquito breeding sites by planting spices and other cash crops.

Mother-of-two Mia Sutanto is a breastfeeding champion. She launched Indonesia’s first mother-to-mother support groups and has harnessed the power of social media to spread her message about the importance of breastfeeding.


Mia Sutanto has used social media to support breastfeeding mothers.  © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

Mia Sutanto has used social media to support breastfeeding mothers.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

Toshi Nakamura, the co-founder of the non-profit organisation Kopernik, focuses on making life-changing technology such as solar power, safe cooking stoves or water purification products available to poor communities. His organisation has come up with innovative ways to measure the impact such technologies are having, using tablet applications (apps) to help collate survey data and asking communities to send feedback via SMS text messages.

Tri Mumpuni, a fellow of the global social entrepreneur network Ashoka, talked about how to use Indonesia’s vast natural resources as a reliable source of energy for rural Indonesia. She is working on economic incentives and financing programmes to increase the use of hydropower.

“Children make up more than a third of Indonesia’s population,” said Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar, the Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. “We have to invest in them and make sure they grow up healthier, smarter and protected from violence.”

Indonesia is one of 18 countries worldwide to hold an ‘ACTIVATE talks’ event in 2014. UNICEF will work with the presenters to further strengthen the development of innovations for children in Indonesia and other countries.

Highlights of the ‘Activate talks’ events and presentations will be featured in this year’s State of the World’s Children report, which will be launched on 20 November 2014, the actual 25th anniversary of the CRC.


The presentations sparked a reaction from young Indonesians in the audience.  © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

The presentations sparked a reaction from young Indonesians in the audience.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.




Innovations in Indonesia: The story of our beginnings

Located within the Knowledge Management unit that is a part of the Communications, Partnerships, and Resource Mobilization Cluster, I’d say that UNICEF Indonesia’s Innovation Lab is a ‘work in progress’, given we began around November 2013.

So what does innovation mean for us?

The power of an idea to manoeuvre, to solve

Rather than battling with bottlenecks, we focused on innovative solutions. Like our Info-Bidan (Information Midwives) project: in partnership with Nokia and the Health Ministry, we initiated a pilot to test the application of ‘Nokia Life’ among midwives to assess the effectiveness of its Info-Bidan feature in improving midwives’ knowledge, and thereby quality of services delivered.

Midwives after a successful Nokialife training workshop in Lombok. Photo credit: Iwan Hasan, UNICEF Indonesia

Midwives after a successful Nokialife training workshop in Lombok. Photo credit: Iwan Hasan, UNICEF Indonesia

For the first time, the public and private sector together with UNICEF partnered on a collaboration that utilized existing technology to overcome bottlenecks in access to knowledge in the health sector. A year later, evaluation results show positive changes in midwives’ knowledge and the quality of services delivered to pregnant women. Now we are gearing towards replication and scale-up, and also reviewing the applicability of the initiative to other sectors.

The energy of youth to explore new horizons

Yes, Indonesia is a young nation, with approximately one third of its total population (237 million) comprised of children (81.3 million) and 17% (41 million) [1] being between the ages of 15-24. Yet as of 2013, the country did not have targeted youth policies that addressed young people’s concerns. In Papua, we highlighted that youth participation in all stages of policy-making is non-negotiable. The essence of Human Centred Design was displayed when Papuan youth engaged in the situation assessment and a stocktaking exercise to review existing provincial programmes targeting youth, highlighted their challenges, identified priorities for policy, and participated in the high level advocacy meeting convened by the Governor to kick-start the development of a provincial youth policy.

A youth consultation workshop in Papua. Photo credit: Sally Beadle

A youth consultation workshop in Papua. Photo credit: Sally Beadle

This success further convinced us of the importance of establishing proper youth engagement channels that mark a shift from tokenistic participation. Creating a social/digital platform for Indonesian youth to address their priorities and concerns to, and seek response from: policymakers, the private sector, and civil society is thus on its way. So is the establishment of an “Adolescent Kit” for emergencies. Simply put, adolescents are now being actively involved in disaster risk reduction and resilience programmes. At present, the concept is being tested within the scope of the north Jakarta floods. The office’s decision to forge partnerships with academic universities for the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge is the third example of our endeavours.


New forms of engagement have their ups and downs. Ensuring that our ideas can improve the lives of marginalized children and youth, convening partners, sustaining momentum, and measuring results – these are our concerns. The downside can be doing innovations just for the sake of it, yet failing to achieve results. The advantage: We live in exciting times, where the possibility of doing things differently is more real than ever. And thus it’s only a beginning that can lead us to new opportunities.

Roshni Basu
Knowledge Management Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia

Ps. Be sure to follow our future posts – lots of exciting information about our innovation projects in Indonesia coming up!

[1] 2010 Census of Indonesia.

Achieving Equity: Innovation for Indonesian Children

UNICEF Indonesia convened a national symposium on April 23, 2014 in Jakarta to showcase the opportunities that exist in addressing the challenges faced by the most vulnerable communities, and the barriers that are encountered by local innovators and authorities in their efforts to deliver results for children.