By Myrna Remata Evora, Plan International Indonesia Country Director
I am in awe of how Indonesian young people, especially girls, tirelessly voice their concerns for the attainment of children’s rights in Indonesia. In particular, I have the utmost admiration for those who have advocated for the prevention of child marriage to the government in their own creative ways and style.
International Day of the Girl
For the International Day of the Girl, commemorated on 11 October, a group of young people were given the chance to represent the minister and her deputies in the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. The girls discussed their proposal to pass a regulation to protect victims of child marriage through a back-to-school movement called GEMAS so that those children can return to school even when they are married.
I have the utmost admiration for those who have advocated for the prevention of child marriage
The girls recommended the ministry establishes a rehabilitation centre called TAMAN PELANGI (Rainbow Park) for children who were married before the age of 18 in order to minimise domestic violence and to provide them with life skills that can support them to cut the cycle of poverty.
They also supported the current programme of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection that encourages children to be the initiator (pelopor) and reporter (pelapor) of a program entitled, Indonesia PeDuli (Sensitive and Concerned).
These are some of the meaningful recommendations read aloud by 17-year-old Priscilla of SoE, East Nusa Tenggara, who became the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection for a day, as part of International Day of the Girl. In a TV interview she bravely expressed her aspirations for children all over Indonesia.
Advocating for a safer internet
Priscilla is not the only one who made a meaningful impact. Nabila, 15, from Bandung, West Java, who supported the government as the national internet ambassador also joined the activity as the Deputy for Women’s Rights at the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection.
Nabila has become a resource person for her peers who are advocating for a safer internet for Indonesian children. She also helps children to fulfill their rights by giving them suitable information to prevent child marriage, engaging in campaigns and peer counselling for children who fear that they will be trapped in risky behaviors and child marriage.
In Central Java, a child marriage victim, 19-year-old Nurul, who marked the launch of International Day of the Girl in 2012 as a spokesperson for Plan International’s Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) movement at the UN Headquarters, continues to advocate for BIAAG values. She educates the public about the negative impacts of child marriage in the village, district, provincial and national levels. She highlights that child marriage leads children to isolate themselves from society.
Priscilla, Nabila, Nurul represent a group of determined girls who are concerned about child marriage and continue to campaign for girls’ rights and gender equality.
Plan International's efforts
In addition to our female ambassadors, I am equally proud of the spirit and enthusiasm present in Plan International Indonesia staff. They continue to involve young people and marginalised individuals in their girl-focused activitites, ensuring that we provide a space for all children and young people to raise their voice.
All of these efforts are worth appreciating amidst the sensitive nature of advocating for child marriage prevention initiative in Indonesia.