Empowering Indonesia’s Next Generation of Youth

22 November 2015

When UNFPA Indonesia recently asked people of all ages to share their messages of hope and aspirations for young people in eastern Indonesia, many mentioned the words creative, productive, inspiring and independent.


One university student said he hoped that young people could continue learning to become “youth entrepreneurs” for the region, while another visitor said she hoped that young people could contribute with the development of building the eastern part of Indonesia.


These messages were shared on UNFPA Indonesia’s “Wall of Hope” exhibit during the 7th Eastern Indonesia Forum Festival in Makassar, which ran from 17-18 November. Several hundred people attended the two-day event, which included representatives from the Government, such as Transportation Minister Mr. Ignasius Jonan, non-governmental agencies, academics, private sector and international development partners. The festival provided participants the opportunity to share lessons learned and good practices from across the region.


On the sidelines of the main festival, UNFPA Indonesia hosted a session specifically on youth and development to share and discuss the hopes of youth, the role they can play in development and how other stakeholders, in particular the Government and community, can support them.




“UNFPA is committed to supporting the activities of youth to ensure they have the freedom to develop and grow within their community,” explained Ms. Margaretha Sitanggang, UNFPA Indonesia’s National Programme Officer for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, who spoke during the session.


“Youth sometimes struggle to find opportunities to get involved as youth involvement is essentially still new in terms of the Government. UNFPA at the national level always encourages youth participation and the agency creates events where youth have the opportunity to interact with the Government.


The event featured four young speakers from across eastern Indonesia, who shared their views from different fields such as youth and local culture, the power of young people and reproductive health and youth in peace and conflict resolution.


Johan Albert Piter Ginuny, one of UNFPA Indonesia’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) members from Papua, shared with the room of about 100 people some of the struggles young people face in Papua face.


“There is still a need for more ASRH education and services as young people are still experiencing problems with their bodies and they need information to handle puberty, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV and Aids,” explained Johan, who is a youth advocate for ASRH in Papua. “Despite there being a high rate of HIV in Papua, people still think ASRH is taboo. But we need to provide more comprehensive information on this issue as ASRH is not always associated with sexual things.”


University student Muhammad Ami, who lives in Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, talked about youth and the demographic dividend. There are currently more than 65 million young people in Indonesia, which represents 28 percent of the population. For the next 15 years, young people will constitute the main driver of economic growth and social change in the country.


Ami emphasized the importance of engaging young people as key actors in this era, adding that it was possible to have young innovators as they are part of the digital age. He highlighted how many of the popular new apps, such as Go-Jek, had been developed by innovative young people.


“Young people who look for their passion and come up with innovative ideas can become major players in the creative industry,” explained Ami, who is also a UNFPA YAP member.


“In terms of the ASEAN Economic Community, young people have the opportunity to find global opportunities and collaborate with the local community,” he added.


Ambonese native Burhanuddin Borut is part of the Ambon Bergerak community – who relies on social media to spread awareness about their campaign.


“Ambon Bergerak can reach more than 25 percent of adolescents in Ambon via social media. When we collaborate with other communities in Ambon, we can make a bigger impact,” he shared with the room.


“People are sometimes suspicious of our independent organization and liken it to a nationalism movement, but we explain that it is about collaborating and not conflict. We are interested in working with other organizations of the same issues as it is better to collaborate.”


Artist Abdi Karya wrapped up the presentations with a presentation on the relationship between art, development and youth.


“Youth can relate to many issues through art,” says Abdi, who works with Rumata’ Artspace in Makassar. “Youth can be the agent of change by not only working behind the table but also by showing their identity. I believe that youth can strongly contribute to the wealth of Sulawesi.”


The interactive session ended with a call for all of the participants to help spread a simple Tweet to sum up the overall message of the event: “We should be involved. We are agents of change for development in Eastern Indonesia, now and in the future”. #ProudtobeIndonesian