25 April 2014 – A young nation with half of the population being below 29 years of age, Indonesia has been benefitting from strong dynamics in entrepreneurship and innovations. Networking and connecting via social media is another area where young Indonesians are seen to be very active. The capital Jakarta alone has more than 11 million Facebook users, and some 29 million Indonesians are active on Twitter.
Building on this vibrant environment, UNICEF organized an “ACTIVATE talks” event under the motto: “Achieving Equity: Innovation for Indonesian Children” on the 23rd of April 2014 at the Dutch Embassy Cultural Centre. A set of five speakers were selected for this event, based on their contributions to the field of innovations in Indonesia that have helped address the most critical issues of equity and disparities affecting children.
With a turnout of around 350 people including the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Linda Gumelar; other key government counterparts, UNICEF’s national goodwill ambassador Ferry Salim; UN Agency; donors; private sector; NGO representatives; and an overwhelming number of young people, the event witnessed high levels of engagement and interest in the ideas presented.
Emphasizing the role of innovations in achieving results for Indonesian children, UNICEF Representative Angela Kearney highlighted: “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 fulfill their rights and achieve their dreams.”
Tri Mumpuni, recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay award, spoke about how Indonesia’s vast natural resources can be tapped as a reliable source of energy for rural Indonesia, citing how she utilized hydropower to bring electricity to rural communities, thus fostering children’s ability to study at home and facilitate local development. Her work had since received mention by President Obama at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in 2010, giving her further international recognition.
In the area of health, Dr. Ahmad Aziz, a district health officer, demonstrated how he supports isolated coastal communities in Northern Maluku in the remote eastern part of the country in finding local solutions to the problem of malaria – still an important child killer in Indonesia – , including by eliminating mosquito breeding sites through the planting of spices and other cash crops.
Addressing the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding and tackling related problems like stunting which affects around 37% of young children in Indonesia, a lawyer-turned-breastfeeding champion, Mia Sutanto shared her experiences about launching the country’s first mother-to-mother support group and how she created momentum through social media.
The co-founder of the non-profit organisation Kopernik, Toshi Nakamura whose organization focuses on making life-changing technology such as solar power, safe cooking stoves or water purification products available to poor communities, spoke about the importance of measuring impact through the use of simple and affordable technology such as SMS platforms.
Anies Baswedan, who is one of Indonesia’s youngest university presidents at the Paramadina University in Jakarta and the initiator of the NGO Indonesia Mengajar (Teaching Indonesia), reflected on how his initiative worked towards making education accessible to remote parts of the country, by involving young, educated Indonesians for a short period of time of a year or less. “We realised that 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.
The 10 minute presentations were followed by a panel discussion where speakers responded to questions received from the audience, primarily via twitter, but also through face to face interaction and dialogue. The overwhelmingly young audience was particularly interested in opportunities to contribute to social change themselves. Through sharing their experiences, speakers managed to raise awareness among the urban population of the mega-city Jakarta about development challenges in remote areas, thus providing them with an impetus to support UNICEF and the Government of Indonesia in reducing barriers and bottlenecks towards delivering results for children.
UNICEF Indonesia will engage with the speakers as well as the young audience in rolling out some of the key initiatives of its own Innovation Lab, such as the social media platform “I-Report” through which the country’s youth will be able to contribute to social development processes in the country.
By Roshni Basu
Knowledge Management Specialist
Follow the ACTIVATE Talks and discussion here – next one is coming up in Boston tomorrow!