Encouraging the government and civil-society organizations to speak to youth rather than speak for youth was one of the key messages during UNFPA Indonesia’s International Youth Day seminar in Jakarta on Friday, 14 August.
As the chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (UN-IANYD), the United Nations Population Fund in collaboration with @america, hosted the event to celebrate the actions of young people in Indonesia in line with this year’s theme of “Youth Civic Engagement”.
“The participation of youth in government and civil society is essential to achieve sustainable human development,” explained UNFPA Indonesia Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris. “Yet, 16 years after the UN declared the 12 August as International Youth Day, the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially remain low or non-existent in most countries around the world.”
Although 16 percent of the world’s population is 20-29 years old, this age group represents only 1.6 percent of parliamentarians, most of whom are men. This means that young people mostly remain excluded from the decision-making process.
In Indonesia, there are 66 million people aged 10-24, meaning young people make up one third of the population. The next 20 years offer a unique opportunity for a demographic dividend that will accelerate sustainable economic growth and development in the country.
“We will not be able to harness these benefits for Indonesia if we do not empower, support, educate and create employment for young people today,” added Mr. Ferraris. “Young women and men need protection from violence, and they have a right to access essential education and health services, including for their sexual and reproductive health. They also have the right to be at the tables where decisions are made.
More than 200 people attended the afternoon seminar at @america, Pacific Place in Jakarta. US Ambassador to Indonesia H.E. Robert Blake Jr. and UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Douglas Broderick each gave an opening address, while the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ Head of Potential Development Mr. Esa Sukmawijaya spoke about the potential of youth during the talk-show style event. Charity Lights Co-Founder Gigih Rezki Septianto and singer Vidi Aldiano also made presentations during the seminar.
“The young people speaking at the seminar gave us inspiration to take action,” explained 26-year-old Mitra Tarigan, who attended the event. “We really do need good role models like them so that we can all realise that young people in Indonesia can do big things.”
UNFPA Indonesia launched its second youth booklet during the event, “Realizing Young People’s Potentials: The Path to a Brighter Future”, which profiles 32 inspiring young Indonesian leaders. The first booklet entitled “Investing in Young People in Indonesia: Inspirational Young Leaders, Driving Social Change” was launched during the commemoration of World Population Day on 11 July, 2014. An issue brief developed by UNFPA’s Youth Advisory Panel members on engaging youth participation was also launched at the seminar.
“The achievements that were presented in the first and second youth booklet can hopefully motivate other young people to participate in the development of Indonesia,” said Margharetha Sitanggang, UNFPA Indonesia’s National Program Officer for Youth and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health.
“The stories of young people in these youth booklets should also open our minds as adults to start believing and to give opportunities and support to young people.”
The seminar ended with a lively performance from Indonesian musicians Abdul & The Coffee Theory.