Executive Director's Statement for High-level Dialogue on Capitalizing on the Demographic Dividend

20 April 2015

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Good morning.

Your Excellency Vice President Jusuf Kalla,

Honourable Ministers,

Distinguished Guests,


I am pleased to join you today for this high-level dialogue on capitalizing on the demographic dividend here in Indonesia.


UNFPA is pleased to be a co-sponsor of this event, together with our friends at the Indonesian Demographers’ Association. I thank our moderator, Professor Tjiptoherijanto, who is Chair of the Association.


The timing is perfect for our gathering as Indonesia embarks this year on its National Medium Term Development Plan for 2015-2019, and the global community prepares for the post-2015 international development agenda.


This meeting could not have come at a better time because Indonesia is ripe to reap a demographic dividend, accelerate economic growth and advance sustainable development.


Today, the proportion of the working age population (15-65 years) in Indonesia outsizes both ends of the dependency population:  those 65 and older, and those 0-14. Based on the forecasting of the BPS-Statistics Indonesia and UNFPA, Indonesia has been presented with these conditions to achieve a dividend since 2010, with a dependency ratio below 50 – and this favorable ratio will peak about 2030.


But as you well know, a demographic dividend is not automatic, but will depend on time-critical investments to empower, educate and employ the 4 million or so young Indonesians who enter working age every year, and lifelong skill-building to sustain their competitiveness.


If gainfully employed, and with government policies encouraging a dispensation for personal savings, the “dividend’ generations will advance to older age with greater wealth and security, able to invest in the next generation - yielding what is sometimes called the “second dividend.” 


The good news is that the Government of Indonesia is focused on harnessing the demographic dividend in its National Medium Term Development Plan.


With the right policies, the demographic dividend will result in a stronger economy and improvements in welfare and quality of life for the people of Indonesia.


UNFPA is here to support the Government’s vision for Indonesia to realize the dividend and transform from an Emerging Economy into an Advanced Economy by 2025. We are working with a broad coalition of partners to ensure the empowerment of women and young people, and to support the needed investments in education and employment.




When we speak of supporting “empowerment” for the demographic dividend, let me highlight the realization of human rights and freedoms for young women to chose when and whom to marry, and for couples to decide on the timing and number of children, with full confidence in their own health, and the well-being of their children. For this, we know we need to fulfill the right of all individuals to reproductive choices, to knowledge, and to high-quality sexual and reproductive health.


Since the 1970s, women and couples in Indonesia have been choosing to have smaller families, and the average number of children in a family has dropped by more than half since the 1960s.


This success is due to several factors, including the National Family Planning Programme, the greater survival of children, and the increasing rights of girls and women to education and employment. The role of religious leaders has been critical in paving the way for the successful implementation of these transformations, and the success of family planning, and the decline in fertility has been accompanied by accelerated economic development. 


But more will be needed.  Looking ahead to 2030, several key challenges will need to be addressed to achieve and sustain the dividend:


First, Indonesia’s large population will continue to increase, albeit more slowly, demanding a corresponding expansion of health services, including SRH and family planning services, and with attention to growing urbanization.


Second, Indonesia has made progress in building human capital, but still faces challenges in improving the quality of health and education. In terms of health-related challenges, Indonesia is in the process of expanding universal access to reproductive health and reducing maternal death rates, which have regressed to a 1990s level.  Universal health coverage is a great public good, but quality does not always follow universal coverage, and Indonesia will need to ensure that the full and comprehensive cluster of SRH services are included.


In terms of education-related challenges, according to the 2010 Population Census, a large proportion of the population aged 25-59 has not completed high school, and only half has attended primary school.


Moving forward, Indonesia joins other nations around the world, along with the UN system, civil society, the private sector and academia in preparing for the new post-2015 international development agenda.


The post-2015 agenda is demanding – it challenges countries to make rapid progress in multiple sectors, simultaneously.  There are no easy shortcuts, but Indonesia has an age structure that provides an added advantage for rapid economic growth. And you can count on UNFPA to support you as you rapidly empower, educate and employ young and working age people.


I am pleased to announce that on 1 June, UNFPA is co-hosting a special high-level event with the President of the General Assembly and the International Labour Organization to galvanize global support for nations to reap the demographic dividend to drive sustainable development.


Assisting the Government of Indonesia in optimizing this window of opportunity is a key priority for UNFPA in Indonesia.


I thank you and I look forward to our discussions.